A walk down Fraser Town

A Christmas Eve Photo-walk down Fraser Town evoked a lot of nostalgic memories of the Bangalore of yore – a city of endless greenery dotted with lovely bungalows. The photo-walk led by seasoned photographer and photo-journalist Vivek Muthuramalingam attracted a motley crowd from all over the city. The idea of the walk was to soak into the Christmas revelry this part of the city has long been known for.

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The starting point of the evening walk was the iconic Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in Fraser Town. The majestic church with its vast courtyard is a lovely place to visit. A lot of chairs had been put in front of the church which was all set to welcome huge crowds for the midnight mass to be conducted by the Archbishop of Bangalore.

Our next destination would have been Saint John’s Church but we had to leave disappointed because the security guard wouldn’t let us in 😦

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In the vicinity of Saint John’s Church I noticed this fruit cart loaded with an assortment of fruits and alongside it a man selling fruit salad.

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It was hard to miss this lovely vintage bungalow with a large courtyard. Wonder how it looked years back when it was constructed. Today it lies neglected and crying for attention. ‘Philomena Pavillon’ constructed around 1865 has seen many owners and very beautiful days and is currently under litigation. It originally belonged to General John Wheeler Cleveland after whom Wheeler Road and Cleveland Town are named. It was then called Cleveland Lodge. Multiple owners later it was sold to Rajasabhabhushana T. Thamboo Chetty in 1940 and the current owners belong to his family. I really wish the place undergoes a makeover and is preserved for posterity.

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Thom’s Bakery on Wheeler Road wore a festive look and was crowded to the hilt and the air was filled with the aromas of freshly baked cakes and goodies which made me feel very hungry. The counters were stacked with cakes and other delicacies and shoppers’ baskets were loaded with a variety of foods. I managed to get a bite of a soft-as-butter muffin thanks to a fellow photographer who had the patience to wade through the crowds and buy some grub.

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As we left Thom’s my eyes caught hold of a towering skyscraper that seemed to be shooting through the skies. Surprisingly, some of the roads hardly showed signs of life in spite of it being Christmas Eve. Someone in the group pointed to a plaque commemorating Fraser Town. The plaque in spite of its historical significance is hardly noticeable. Maybe it can be surrounded by a tiny flower garden to make it more prominent.

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We had a pit stop at Albert Bakery on Mosque Road, one of the oldest bakeries in the neighbourhood. The bakery has been running since 1902. Though the bakery belongs to a Muslim family, it was named Albert because of the pre-dominant British population that resided here in the early 1900s. Check out this video which I found on YouTube:

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We made a surprise halt at a charming bungalow belonging to Miss Tracy, a venerable old Anglo-Indian lady, to greet her with a Christmas cake. Going by her expression, Miss Tracy was as surprised as she was pleased.

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A house constructed in 1953

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A charming vintage bungalow

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Bethesda Assembly Church

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As the evening wore on we came across some more subjects and beautiful vintage buildings. I was particularly enchanted by the Bethesda Assembly Church.

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Outside a medical shop I came across a rather peculiar advertisement.  Back home I googled Petrol Uncle thinking it would be a brand of medical footwear. Well! I was wrong! Petrol Uncle is a Santa Claus-like figure in this part of the city. More about him here:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/petrol-uncle-is-santa-for-motorists/article5466856.ece

After a final pit stop at the Dil Pasand Tea House it was time to wind up and say goodbye to a wonderful wintry evening of photography.

Manny the Bride towers over all others

The bride is there but the groom is missing. Dressed in a pristine white flowing wedding gown with a tiered skirt, Manny the Bride is one of the star attractions at the 40th Nilgiris Cake Show. The six-and-a-half feet beauty made from rice crispy treats and marshmallows is a sight to behold. The white strapless gown with rose accents and a large bow around the waist perfectly complements Manny’s dusky complexion. A large pink-beaded necklace completes the look.

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A colourful re-creation of the Parliament House will have you awestruck. The large cake measures 22 ft x 22 ft and has been made from sugar, eggs and corn flour. Unlike most of the cakes on show including ‘Manny the Bride’, the Parliament House has not been enclosed in a see-through case making it that much more easier to photograph it.

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Fiercely guarding all the cakes is Toothless the Night Fury and a white tiger 🙂

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To celebrate Mangalyaan, India’s successful mission to Mars, the Nilgiris’ bakers have created a cake replica of PSLV C-25:

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Cinderella looks oh-so-cute in her pumpkin carriage:

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Vying for attention with other cakes are Chota Bheem and his friends and a Snowman:

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Children would love to play in the Dragon Park:

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A church made of biscuits will make you want to eat it:

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Like always there is a line-up of pretty wedding cakes:

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The cake show is on till the 4th of January. Try not to miss it!

Venue:

St Joseph Indian High School Grounds

Opp. Kanteerva Stadium

Also read:

Not a piece of cake

A walk down Murphy Town

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The left gate of the Murphy Town Market.

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The right gate of the Murphy Town market.

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The large open space inside the market.

The library

The library

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Against a backdrop of increasing protests by heritage lovers against Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) decision to raze 18 heritage markets in Bangalore, an INTACH-led photo walk around Murphy Town Market drew a lot of participants. The Sunday morning walk, an initiative of INTACH in collaboration with noted photographer PeeVee and Kiran Natarajan of Bangalore – photos from a bygone age (a Facebook group), started at the Murphy Town Market. The market which was built around 1913 in this quaint British-era settlement has 28 shops and is predominantly a meat and poultry market. The colourfully painted stone building which houses the market has a large open space. Another stone building on the outside of the market, which is a library frequented by people of Murphy Town, stands tall amidst the frenzy of buyers and vendors.

V. M. Stores is as old as the market.

V. M. Stores is as old as the market.

The Murphy Town settlement mushroomed around the 1830s and was constructed by a British engineer Murphy for servants of British officers.  A majority of those who resided here were traders, potters and leather workers. In the 1800s, the settlement was called Knoxpet. Most of the buildings in the area were constructed around the early 1900s. The market, a couple of schools and wide roads are remnants of the architecture and infrastructure of those days.  The 100-year-old V.M. Stores, one of the shops in the market, is as old as the market. The shop-owners who are the third-generation of the family that runs the stores are an enthusiastic bunch and are hoping like many others that the building demolition does not happen. One of them had an anecdote to tell us about the British-built drainage of the market. When he emptied a glass of water into the drain he could trace the path of the water as it disappeared down the drain. Recently, the drain was vandalized in the name of repair work. They are of the view that if the proposed demolition goes through, the worst hit are going to be the hundreds of residents of Murphy Town most of whom are from the lower income groups because at the market they get to purchase stuff at very affordable rates. There is also a police quarters in the vicinity which houses the families of lower-cadre police force.

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While a lot of walkers made their way through the teeming crowds to shoot pictures some others waited for the library to open. Sadly that never happened. For some reason, the lady in charge of the library didn’t turn up.

The streets in Murphy Town are pretty broad typical of British town planning.

The streets in Murphy Town are pretty broad typical of British town planning.

At the entrance to the 1913 Elementary School.

At the entrance to the 1913 Elementary School.

The beautiful building is a classic example of architecture of the early 1900s.

The beautiful school building is a classic example of architecture of the early 1900s.

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Our next stop was the 1913 Elementary School, another vintage building. The roads that lead to the school, which is nestled among the houses of Murphy Town, are home to a lot of street dogs who unlike stray dogs elsewhere look remarkably healthy which goes on to say that people here care for dogs. As we neared the school we could hear the barks of a pack of dogs.  There were a lot of them inside the school compound. The barks died down as we entered the compound. The cream-washed British style building that houses the school is striking looking and very typical of British-style architecture.  It is surrounded by a lot of open space and large trees. We were bowled by the charming building and just couldn’t have enough of it. Needless to say it turned out to be a great subject to photograph.

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Like the library in front of the market, the other school in the locality was closed and out of bounds for visitors. We left hoping to have a peek into the school on our next visit. Hopefully by that time better sense prevails over the BBMP and they decide to leave all the 18 buildings alone. Heritage buildings in a large way define the character of a city and are a significant feature of the cityscape. We need to preserve them for posterity.

If you want to save Bangalore’s heritage markets from demolition join the campaign now at

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fchn.ge%2F12ZC3y3%3Frecruiter%3D11943200&h=IAQGmzoEA

Tidbits

Recently, Murphy Town was re-christened as Hoysala Nagar. But the new name has not caught on. And a new building constructed to house the nearby vegetable market is lying unused with almost all the vegetable vendors preferring to sell on the roads as they cannot afford the rent. The residents of Murphy Town are a photo-friendly lot and some of them beckon you to take their photos like this auto driver who wouldn’t leave till I took his picture.

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10 simple stress-busters

Life’s a roller-coaster ride and every one of us has their shares of ups and downs. There’s hardly a day which is stress-free. We shouldn’t get bogged down by stress instead we should take it in our stride. Let me play agony aunt and outline 10 simple stress busters.

1. Take a nature walk

Head to a park or sylvan surroundings and walk at your own pace.  As you amble along have a good look at the trees and watch out for birds. Look up the internet and dig up information about any new tree or bird that you noticed on your walk. As an alternative you could also bust all the stress by having a long brisk walk through the glades.

2. Watch a cartoon strip

Bring out the child in you! Tune in to one of the cartoon channels and watch Tom chase Jerry or Donald Duck in a quacking frenzy or Doraemon and his friends or whatever makes you laugh. Laughter as you know is the best medicine.

3. Read a book

Pick up a book or comic preferably a short read and enjoy your journey to a totally new world. Go for something humorous like the Asterix or Tin Tin series, a good joke book or a collection of short stories which won’t take you long to finish.

4. Watch a movie

Like a book, a movie is also like a journey to a different world. Opt for a laugh riot or a family entertainer. Stock up a good collection of such movie DVDs in your cabinet. When you are feeling low and down in the dumps they would serve as good stress doctors.

5. Talk to a friend

In this man-eat-man world you can count yourself as lucky even if you just one good friend and doubly lucky if you have a 4am friend. Have a long chat.

6. Treat yourself to a round of retail therapy

If you can afford it retail therapy works wonders. Loosen your purse strings and pamper yourself with new clothes, accessories, gadgets or whatever suits you. But watch out! Do not blow all your money!

7. Spend some time with your pet

Dogs and cats make great friends. Play a game of throw-a-ball with your furry buddy or just hug the cutie and watch TV or listen to music.

8. Indulge in a hobby

It is a good idea to cultivate hobbies. Break the monotony of a hard day by indulging in a hobby be it painting, knitting, carpentry, photography, embroidery or anything that interests you.

9. Listen to music

You needn’t be a music buff to appreciate great music. Listen to your favourite tunes or songs and relax. Music is indeed food for the soul and the mind especially a tired soul and mind.

10. Have an ice-cream

Chill at home or your nearest ice-cream parlour with a tub of flavourful ice-cream. The bigger the tub the better!

Book Review: Summer Moonshine

summer Moonshine

‘Summer Moonshine’ is a delectable cocktail of humour, love, confusion and funny characters. Like any other PG Wodehouse novel, this one too will have you chuckling every now and then.

At the centre of the laugh riot are the Vanringham brothers Tubby and Joe. Tubby who is slightly on the heavier side falls in and out of love often while fit-as-a-fiddle Joe is a combination of intelligence and humour. Then there is their obnoxious stepmom Princess Von und zu Dwornitzchek who as Joe aptly describes is “the sand in Civilization’s spinach”. The wealthy heiress is engaged to marry Adrian Peake who is young enough to be her son and unknown to her is also engaged to young Jane Abott. The girls who the brothers are in love with are a study in contrast. Joe is smitten by the tomboyish Jane Abott and Tubby is in and out of love with Prudence Whittaker who has a very funny way of pronouncing words and is the secretary of  Jane’s father Sir Buckstone Abott. Baronet Sir Buckstone Abott is near bankrupt and managing to keep the wolf from the door by renting out rooms in his country house Walsingford Hall to paying guests. Princess Dwornitzchek is all set to relieve the poor baronet of bankruptcy by buying Walsingford Hall. Giving the poor Sir Buckstone Abott a run for his money is his brother-in-law Samuel Bulpitt who is a plasterer with a soft spot for lovers.

Do the Vanringham brothers succeed in marrying the women they love? Does Sir Buckstone Abott manage to get Walsingford Hall off his back? Grab a copy and find out.

Excerpt:

“Although her voice had been audible through the woodwork, it had, of course, been impossible for Mr Bulpitt to watch the play of expression on the face of his visitor during this conversation. Had he been able to do so, he would have observed that his request that she purloin clothes belonging to Sir Buckstone Abott had not been well received by Miss Whittaker. Her eyebrows had risen and she had pursed her lips. A well-trained secretary does not rifle her employer’s wardrobe, and the suggestion had frankly shocked the girl.”