Lal Bagh Flower Show – January 2019

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This year’s Republic Day edition of the famous Lal Bagh Flower Show turned out to be a fitting floral tribute to the Father of the Nation on the occasion of his 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations.

Various replicas of Mahatma Gandhi including floral ones were there everywhere. There were a few of Gandhiji’s wife Kasturba as well.

 

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While a grand floral replica of the Sabarmati Ashram was the cynosure of attention, I must admit I was more smitten by Gandhi’s monkeys especially the ones outside the Glass House that looked like they were coated with strawberry ice-cream. These huge replicas of the simians were sponsored by an ice-cream company. However, the pink replicas were installed in a fenced space much to the disappointment of selfie-enthusiasts.

Another disappointment was the arrangement of flowers. I missed taking many good pictures like in the earlier versions of the show as the flowers weren’t close enough for me to take pictures, armed as I always am with an 18-55mm lens. Luckily, there were a lot of pictures at the many nurseries for me to go click click click.

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There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – IV

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After missing last year’s edition of this popular food soiree, I managed to make it to the fair this year and that too on a week day! I managed to get a day off. Yay!

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The traffic was dense on that Friday afternoon. I chose to travel during the lunch hours which would be most apt I should say to visit a food fest like this one. I must have reached Sajjan Rao Circle, the venue of the fair around 2.30pm. I had wanted to reach the place around 1 to 1.30pm but somehow couldn’t make it.

 

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There wasn’t much of a crowd. The unmistakeable aromas of dosas getting roasted on a tawa greeted me as I approached the food stalls. Undoubtedly, the dosas like always were the most desired items on the menu. The cherubic ever-smiling cook was there this time too, busy laying out Holliges. He seems to have become a media favourite over the years and had a lot of TV camera crew watching him with admiration.

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There were a lot of sellers adding to the lively atmosphere surrounding Vasavi Condiments, the organisers of the fest, including some who were selling raw avarekai. Buyers could choose to buy the avarekai either with the pod or shelled. Sacks of avarekai were also being downloaded at the venue.

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I was surprised at seeing this ice-apple seller. Ice apples normally hit the markets during the summer months. Perhaps, the early produce was an impact of climate change?

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This lady selling varieties of puffed rice was there at the 2017 edition of the fair too.

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Unlike earlier editions of the Avarekai Mela where I only had my camera with me, this time I had a smartphone too. Needless to say, I used both to take pictures. I went on a clicking spree for almost an hour.

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After I was done with the pictures, I decided to have a go for the food. In spite of the presence of so many delicacies at the stalls, I decided to go for my favourite, the Kali dosa with Avarekai sambar as the accompaniment. When waiting for my plate of dosas, I again took my camera out of the bag and clicked some more pictures. When the dosas arrived piping hot, I clicked a picture of them too. There were two on the platter. Hungry as I was, I finished off the dosas in no time. The taste was divine!

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Instead of going for another kind of dosa, I thought I would check out the Avarekai Pulao next. The Pulao which was served in a leaf bowl was a tad spicy and made me want to have something sweet.

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A highlight of this year’s Avarekai mela was the introduction of Avarekai softy ice-cream. I did not think twice before ordering a softy. When the softy arrived all green in a nice-looking cone, I devoured it. It was lip-smacking and almost made me want to go for one more. The craving to have more food vanished with the softy. Perhaps, I should have chosen to eat something else instead of the pulao. I walked around the stalls one last time and decided to go home. My feet had started aching too.

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This time of the year is for cakes!

It is the time of the year when the annual Nilgiris Cake Show is on and like always I found it difficult to give this event a miss. For the last seven years I have somehow managed to squeeze in a visit to the show. This year, I almost missed seeing the sugary beauties. My first visit to the St Joseph Indian High School Auditorium, the venue of the cake exhibition, on 25 December ended in disappointment as I had to do a U-turn at the venue because of the large Christmas crowd. There were visitors at every nook and corner of the ground and near the ticket counters. It would have been extremely foolish on my part if I decided to get lost in the sea of humanity. I thought a wiser move would be to go to a handicraft fair which I so badly wanted to visit.

The cake extravaganza was on till the 1st of January. The period between Christmas and New Year offered me no free time at all and I was wondering if I could go to the show at all. Another thought that played in my mind was whether I should go at all as I had already gone all the way to St Joseph’s once. Finally, I decided to go at the 11th hour on the last day of the exhibition. I reached the venue at around 5.30pm. Luckily, the crowd was not as big as the one that I saw on Christmas day.

Unlike the last two editions of the cake fair, I did not notice any bouncers and there were very few security men. Maybe, it was the timing. As the exhibition was drawing to an end perhaps the organisers decided to do away with the bouncers. It was a blessing in disguise as bouncers would have made my photography experience a little difficult.

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Photographing the prime attraction of the show, a replica of the Red Fort, proved to be tricky as there were a lot of selfie enthusiasts hovering around and trying out myriad poses and then there were people taking group photographs or photographs of their partners. I had to strain my legs and stand on my toes to get a picture.

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Adjacent to the Red Fort was another equally eye-catching cake, this one a multi-staired wedding cake with intricate work. All these cakes are the creations of students of the Institute of Baking and Cake Art.

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The next cake in the row was a cute one depicting a group of penguins.

I then moved on to check out the smaller cakes.

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This one of a genie (Aladdin’s genie) looked enchanting and straight out from a story of the Arabian Nights.

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Next was a colourful wedding cake.

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IMG_7430A cake avatar of a pagoda looked pretty followed by an equally pretty one of a fairy.

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A white wedding cake accentuated by sugary fish made for a lovely picture.

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This sewing machine looked so real!

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A cake version of a natural disaster looked interesting.

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The Buddha in his cake form looked so serene.

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In contrast to the Buddha, a Scorpio cake looked quite scary. I wonder if anyone would have the guts to sink their teeth into this one.

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To erase any thoughts of fear created by the Scorpio cake were a happy clown and a towering snowman looking so endearing with his red muffler.

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The Moana Wave cake showing an islander looked cute.

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A giant ribbon cake looked so yummy and so did the Easter Bunny.

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The dining table with sugary delights looked so inviting.

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A cake showing the newlywed Bollywood couple Deepika and Ranvir looked hilarious. Deepika in her cake form looked quite matronly.

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A cake of Christ the Redeemer looked so perfect.

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I forgot to check out what this cake was all about.

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A wedding cake with large floral motifs looked stunning.

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This group of cute insects looked adorable and so did another with Santas.

After drooling over the cakes, I walked into the adjoining space which was host to a consumer fair. After a quick walk through the fair I headed to the food stalls and settled down with some spicy chaat and a crispy Delhi papad with a sprinkling of chilli powder. With that I ended my visit to the cake show on a spicy note.