Weekly Photo Challenge: “Order”

Keeping things in order is an art and requires a lot of patience. I have often noticed that fruit sellers are an orderly lot and some are perfectionists when it comes to arranging fruits. You would surely agree with me after seeing these pictures:

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via Photo Challenge: Order

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

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My plans to visit the annual Avarekai Mela at VV Puram this year almost fell flat because I was unsuccessful in getting a day off. So far, I have attended the fest only on week days to avoid getting stuck in the midst of burgeoning holiday crowds during the weekend. So I was left with only one option, either go on a weekend or give the food soiree a miss this year. If I finally made up my mind to go it would have to be on the 14th or 15th of January, the last two days of the fest. These two days coincided with Sankranthi and Pongal, both of them being important festivals. And this further deterred me because transport would be a big problem as most drivers of public transport vehicles would be on a holiday.

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I eventually decided to go after my colleagues pushed me to go because in their opinion most people would prefer staying indoors to celebrate the festival than eat outside. So I needn’t have to worry about huge crowds.

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Luck was on my side that Saturday morning because I managed to get a bus pretty fast and then an auto to complete the journey to the venue, Sajjan Rao Circle in VV Puram. The sun-soaked morning further lifted my mood. When I reached the venue, I realised my colleagues were right because there were hardly any people at the stalls. Also, after facing huge crowds at last year’s fest, the organisers decided to put up a large shamiana on the side of Vasavi Condiments to serve most of the foods. A separate stall was put up for serving sweets.

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The warm surroundings, medley of aromas, and festive atmosphere made me feel hungry. But first I had to finish taking pictures. The vendors at the stalls were in a happy mood and most of them were waiting for the foodies to come in. Taking pictures turned out to be much easier save for the harsh 12 o’clock light.

After I was done with the pictures, I made a beeline for the stalls. I was in a mood for dosas and zeroed in on the Kali Dosa and Hithkabele Saru. I had fallen in love with Kali Dosas during my first visit to the fest and decided to relive that beautiful food experience. As I waited for my dosa, I clicked some more pictures. When the dosas came, I again took a couple of pictures before going chomp chomp chomp. The dosas (there were two on the plate) lived up to their reputation; they tasted divine.

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Now the question was what next? I had room for some more grub. I thought of going for the Ragi Mudde (ragi balls), the wonder food of Karnataka, accompanied by the Avarebelle Saru. Unlike, the Kali dosa and other dosas, the Ragi Mudde do not rank high on the taste quotient but then they are extremely nutritious and filling. They are a favourite with the poorer section of people in Karnataka because they are very economic too. It took me some time to finish off the two Ragi Muddes on my plate because as I mentioned they are partaken only for their rich nutritional values and not for their taste. As I munched and munched I noticed that visitors were gradually increasing. I was happy that I started early and reached at an apt time.

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I left the venue happy promising myself to come back next year too.

It’s “Kabali Da!” at the cake show!

I managed to make it to the 2016 Nilgiris Annual Cake Show at the 11th hour (on 1 January which happened to be the last day of the annual affair). And I took a crazy decision of going not only on a Sunday afternoon but also on the last day. Would the first day of the New Year end on a sweet note for me? Well, only time would tell!

Like in the recent years, the venue of the cake show was the St Joseph’s Indian School ground on Vittal Mallya Road. I reached the venue around 2pm and had roughly 45 minutes to tour the exhibition because after that I had to make it to the weekly meeting of the soon to come Bengaluru Tree Festival at next door Cubbon Park. And in between that I also had to make time for a quick chat with my friend Kannika who had come on one of her fleeting trips from Chennai.

After I saw off Kannika at the cake show premises, I entered the exhibition hall. As expected, the venue was super-crowded. And for the first time, I noticed bouncers were positioned at strategic locations. One of them even told me not to click pictures pointing out to the many warning signs that were screaming out “Photography prohibited”. For a moment, I felt disappointed because I had come all the way not only to drool at the cakes but also take pictures. My disappointment soon made way for happiness when I saw many visitors clicking away merrily and there were many like me with DSLRs.

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The cynosure of attention at this edition of the cake show was a near perfect version of the London Bridge made from 500kg of sugar. My first reaction when I saw the spectacular creation was “Wow!” Unlike most other cake exhibits which were encased in polythene covers this one wasn’t, thus making for a happy click. The dim lights added to the attraction.

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A neon green replica of a giant dragon (measuring 7.5 feet in height) vied for attention with the London Bridge. There were selfie enthusiasts galore laboriously trying to wade through the crowds to get that one picture to update their Facebook profiles.

The air was vibrant with loud banter, camera clicks, laughter, bawling of babies and various expressions of enthusiasm as I moved on clicking pictures.

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A cake picture of a dancing goddess looked enchanting.

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A colourful cookie doll house glowed from within a polythene case.

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Aladdin and the genie looked oh-so-cute!

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A giant sugar replica of a pretty doll in a red ball gown grabbed eyeballs.

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This multi-coloured, multi-tiered wedding cake looked so yummy. How I wish I could sink my teeth into it.

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True to its name, the Royal Rajasthan cake looked regal.

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The national bird of India was there too looking resplendent.

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And ho ho ho, whom do I see here, a large Santa!

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The yellow fishes made for a pretty picture.

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Queen Cleopatra in her cake avatar was a stunner all the way!

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I spent some time trying to figure out this cake. Jack and the bean stalk?

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Among the umpteen cakes was this chessboard too.

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A cake avatar of popular Kannada actor and director Shankar Nag would have gladdened the hearts of his many fans. Nationally famous for his production “Malgudi Days”, Shankar Nag died an untimely death in a car crash in 1990.

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Adding to all the colours were these pretty cake bags.

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And what do I see here – the 101 Dalmatians. Bow wow!

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The blue wedding cake with golden accents looked elegant.

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The guitar cake rocked.

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And there was one more wedding cake!

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I could not figure out this cake too – A sort of Money Mountain?

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An Ashoka Pillar stood tall among all the wonderful creations.

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The yellow BMW car wasn’t so visible.

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And finally, what do I see here – a giant cake replica of Kollywood superstar Rajnikanth. The makers were undoubtedly inspired by his recent blockbuster ‘Kabali’. The signature pose tells it all!  Droves of selfie takers made taking a picture very difficult. It only goes to show that Rajnikanth is equally popular in his cake avatar too!

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After a quick bite at the Consumer Fair adjoining the cake exhibition, it was time to rush to Cubbon Park only to realise that the meeting was called off because it was New Year day. The cakes nevertheless made my day and of course the hurried walk through the green expanses of Cubbon Park.

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.