Late Post – A Friday well spent – 2

After a fruitful three hours and a half at Lal Bagh I headed for Sajjan Rao Circle (the venue of the Avarekai Mela). I got a rickshaw quite fast and was there in about 10 minutes.

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Colourful posters and vendors selling colourful ware were all around the venue. There was a lot of noise and honking in the air because of which the cry of the vendors was barely audible. At a distance I could hear the shrill call of a barbet. I inched forward like a snail because I was distracted by all the colour around. The unmistakable aromas of various kinds of dosas getting cooked on tavas started getting stronger as I neared the food stalls. Clearly, the dosas like always were the most popular items.

A noticeable change in the Mela this year was the crowd. The queues were longer than at the previous editions and I could see many visitors getting impatient. Because of the huge demand some of the cooks were getting worked up especially those laying out the dosas. And though there were more stalls than at the earlier editions, there weren’t that many dustbins. The ones which were there were overflowing with used paper plates.

 

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And maybe, the organisers should consider going in for more space to ease crowd movement. Toy and cloth sellers were vying for space with the visitors. There was considerable vehicle movement too.

For obvious reasons, I wasn’t in a mood to click many photos. The steady stream of foodies walking in made me want to rush in for some grub. You can never say, in minutes the queues could double in length. And I needed time to think what to eat first. As I was thinking, I eyed a fresh-from-the-tava stack of Avarekai dosas.

Needless to say, they looked and smelt yum. What say you? And the small cups of Avarekai sambar kept near the dosas made it that much easier for me to decide what I wanted to eat first.

After buying the token, I had to stand in the queue. A couple of people who tried to break the queue were snapped at by ones standing behind. Some choicest expletives were being hurled across both ends.
The Avarekai dosa- Avarekai sambar combo was simply divine. Yay, I had made a good choice!
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I have always loved Akkirotis and thought I would go in for the Avarekai Akkiroti next. So I bought a token and joined the same queue which by now had grown three-fold. The wait was much longer than the wait for the Avarekai dosa. One of those standing before me had come with a large group of friends and ordered 20 dosas in one go making waiting a one-of-a-kind ordeal for poor me and the others standing behind him. Phew!
By now my legs were weary and I had developed acute queue-phobia. The crisp and delectable Avarekai Akkiroti made up for some of the disappointment. I decided not to eat anything more and let the taste of the delicacy linger in my mouth.
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By now the crowds had gotten larger and the food stalls as well as the vendors selling all kinds of other stuff were doing brisk business. I decided it was better to head home.
I flagged down an auto to take me to the Corporation bus stop. As luck would have it, the auto developed engine trouble and stopped right in front of the Corporation end gate of Cubbon Park. I had to get off. Instead of walking to the bus stop I quickly changed my mind and decided to walk through the park and take the Metro from MG Road. I was sure I had made the right decision :). The auto problem seemed to be a blessing in disguise. So what if my legs were weary.

Late Post: The allure of cakes

Like many, I have always been besotted by cakes. Although, the cakes being showcased at all the editions of the Nilgiris Cake Show are not exactly something you can sink your teeth into, they somehow attract me like a fly to jam.

It was literally at the eleventh hour that I found time to go the 2015 edition of the show. The cake show had started on the 18th of December and was scheduled to end on 3rd of January. Not really sure whether I had made the right decision to go (it was a weekend), I left home very late in the evening on the 2nd of January with a lot of anticipation.

I didn’t have to wait at the bus stop for long and to add to that I got a seat near the window  :). After a smooth journey, I got off at the Corporation Bus Stop. Since my last visit to the place, Vittal Mallya Road had undergone a makeover (read as changed to a TenderSURE road). A stark contrast to what it was last year when it was dug up for repair.

Unlike what I expected, the venue St Joseph’s Indian School grounds did not appear very crowded. Now this would not have been the story say 10 years back. Looks like Bangaloreans have more options now when it comes to holiday making.

IMG_9828There were lot of ticket counters making it that much quicker to make it to the hall. At the entrance an exuberant Santa was greeting children.

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The star attraction at this year’s exhibition was a sugar and cream replica of the Lost City of Atlantis.  Sounded like a place in one of those sci-fi thrillers. Star Wars was playing to packed houses. Could it be a place in Star Wars? How wrong I was! The last thing I expected was a Plato connect! Whoo!!

Check this out:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-tsunami-atlantis-idUSTRE72B2JR20110312

Wonder how long it took to make the real Atlantis? The cake version took only 75 days with 6 people working on it.

https://whatshappbangalore.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/41th-annual-cake-exhibition-worlds-biggest-annual-cake-show-and-bangalore-cake-art/

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The Smurfs Village looked oh-so-cute with all the teeny-weeny mushroom houses topped with chimneys.

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The 5.3-feet replica of former President APJ Abdul Kalam in his signature bandhgalla suit turned out to be a favourite selfie spot for many.

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The Tinkle cake inspired by the famous Tinkle comics looked delightful. Stupid boy Suppandi stood out with Doob-Doob, the crocodile, a close second. Tantri, the evil Mantri, was there too! Kalia, the crow, seemed strangely subdued.

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa in sugar looked amazing with its intricate detail. The yellow scooter contrasted well with the white shade of the cake.

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The Kraken Cake depicting a sinking ship was mind-blowing. Legend has it that Kraken was a sea monster with octopus-like tentacles. Looks like this ship crashed against Kraken. Don’t miss his tentacles:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kraken

 

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If Manny the Bride towered over all others at the last edition of the cake show, this year it was the beautiful Butterfly Princess resplendent in a lovely blue ensemble embellished with pretty butterflies. The Butterfly Princess looked so real!

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The replica of the Steam Locomotive was out of the world. The dimensions were perfect and had me in awe. The cake pebbles on the side of the track looked so cute!

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The ice-cream cake looked so colourful and enticing! I was surprised that it was still standing there at the fag end of the exhibition.

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The giraffe in the wild and the pug in front of the kennel looked so real and endeared to one and all. Hugs to the cuties!

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And how did the cake makers manage to create these flamingos? No words can describe their talent!

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Did you know Action Superheroes are made of marshmallows, rice krispy and sugar dough? Ha ha!! Those three ingredients went into making these toughies.

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This one was for the biking aficionados!

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It took only one person to make this cake laden with romance!

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And to think that nothing in the world can lean more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Well! This leaning cake proved how wrong everyone can be. Wow!

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The stack of ornate kettles made for a pretty picture.

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And look who is here! Our national animal in his cake avatar!

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Not too far from him sitting pretty on a pink mat was an exotic flower vase.

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It took one person one month to make this barn. A great work of art!

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And there was a wedding cake and a pram too.

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A consumer fair at the other end of the venue made sure that visitors at the cake show did not return home empty-handed. The many stalls were selling anything from large electronic appliances to trinkets and what not.

 

 

 

Exploring KR Market

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A photo-walk inside Krishna Rajendra Market (KR Market) turned out be very enlivening. The market named after Sri Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, a former Maharaja of Mysore, is the biggest and busiest market in Bangalore. Taking pictures here can be quite an experience. Even as you focus your camera on a subject and adjust your step there is every possibility that you will bump into a human, a canine or a hungry bovine. There is every chance that you will end up falling flat on your face and get up with muck all over you. At certain quiet corners of the market you could end up scaring humans and animals who till you emerged at the spot were fast asleep. Don’t be surprised too if you land on a cow’s back and the poor animal gets up and runs with you à la Captain Haddock’s cow ride in ‘Tintin in Tibet’. The space between sellers is very narrow. So when taking pictures of vegetables and vegetable sellers you have to watch your step or else you will end up trampling vegetables neatly laid out by the vendors.

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Uninterrupted announcements over the loudspeakers alerting people to watch out for laptop thieves, mobile thieves, pickpockets, chain-snatchers and female thieves drown the cries of vendors and farmers trying to sell their produce.  Amidst all this cacophony, an occasional moo from a cow, a caw from a crow, chirps of sparrows (there are plenty here 🙂 ) or a bark of a dog (quite a few vendors have Indie dogs as pets here 🙂 ) is like music to the ears.

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Thanks to the endless varieties of flowers, spices and coloured powders sold here the market is as colourful as it is noisy.  And the smells of jasmine, marigold, and roses greet you everywhere.

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The Sankranti-eve photo-walk led by eminent photographer Vivek Muthuramalingam started at 7am outside the market entrance. The theme of the walk was to capture the Makara Sankranti (harvest festival) fervour in and around the market which during the time of this festival is overcrowded thanks to the large supply of and demand for flowers, garlands, and sugarcane.

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At the entrance, a couple of lemon-sellers caught my eyes. I liked the artistic manner in which the lemons were arranged. As I walked on I noticed that arranging fruits and veggies in artistic style is a habit with most vendors here.

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This little dog was one bundle of energy. Every now and then he sprinted off like Usain Bolt only to come back seconds later to his favourite perch (a sack).

I spotted more dogs as I walked on.  Two of them were fast asleep and another was watching over the market space. One fella had cosied up inside a basket.

While the inner courtyard of the market was occupied by vegetable and spice sellers most of the fruit sellers and grocers had occupied shops inside the building. There were a lot of shops that were either not occupied or had not opened for the day.

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The fruit merchants and grocers had just started their day. One was counting money perhaps his earnings of the previous day. Another was having a cup of tea. A couple of them had just finished their prayers.

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A lot of shops were selling rangoli powder arranged in perfect mountains. As you can see making these mountains is no child’s play; it requires a lot of practice.

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Even as truckloads of flowers were being unloaded, skillful garland makers were at work. I was amazed at the speed in which their fingers and hands moved. Till I noticed these men making garlands I thought that garland-making was strictly a women’s prerogative.

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At 8.30am it was time to wind up, say goodbye to KR Market and head for breakfast.

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

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Like last year I made it to the Avarekai Mela to pig out on some of the out-of-the-world treats that are offered at this food fest. The fair seems to have become more popular this year because the crowds were definitely bigger. The organizers on their part seemed to have anticipated the rush and had employed more cooks and there were more stalls. The air was filled with aromas of the different foods being cooked and crowd banter. Ready-to-eat Avarekai delicacies like Avarekai mixture, Pedas and Mysore Pak were being sold inside the premises of Vasavi Condiments, the organizers of the Avarekai Mela.

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On the outside there were a lot of other vendors selling Avarekai (flat beans), Kadalekai (groundnuts), water melons, vegetables, toys, water and more. Some of the vendors I spotted last year were missing instead there were new faces like this lady who was selling puffed wheat and rice and a man with a doll selling a kind of candy.

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This year, the Mela seems to have attracted a lot of media attention too and some of the cooks were very photo-friendly like this cherubic cook who was laying out one Obuttu (Holige) after another with a large smile on his face.

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Jalebis and Kodubale seemed to be the most popular with long queues in front of the stalls selling them.

After a round of photography I decided to savour some of the delicacies. The taste of the Khalli Dosa that I had eaten at last year’s mela still lingered in my mouth and I went for it this time too. As expected, the Dosa and the accompaniment were a delight. I wasn’t sure what to have next thanks to the endless list of items on the menu. After much thought, I ordered an Akki Roti. The Akki Roti was quite thin and crisp with Avarekai embedded here and there and was easy to finish off. I ended my culinary journey with a tub of yummy Upittu.

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A very noticeable addition to the mela this year was a Pani Puri seller. After three plates of grub I wasn’t in a mood for Pani Puris. Maybe I’ll have a go at them next year but only after a plate of lip-smacking Khalli Dosa, my all-time favourite!

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The fair is on till the 14th of January.

Venue:

Sri Vasavi Condiments

Opposite VB Bakery

Sajjan Rao Circle

V V Puram

Bangalore 560004

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.