Category Archives: Street Food

#TravellerStories-02- Off Missed Sunrises and Other Stories!

Let’s meet Arnav Mathur who is second on this series called  #TravellerStories. He’s a traveller from New Delhi (who is passionate about going green and sustainability) who blogs at Eat,Travel,Live and Repeat. He works as aSocial Media Coordinator and Content Writer at JustWravel Pvt Ltd. In this episode, we throw a few questions at him and find out what he likes and doesn’t. Since this is an experiment, feel free to comment and help us out with interesting questions for the next set of travellers to be featured.

Arnav Mathur

 

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStoriesXX? We hear so many travel stories, but we’d be able to appreciate the travel stories at a relative level, only when these same questions are put to people at different place, we’d probably have a sense of awe towards how geography and history places a bias on our thinking. So these are nice postcards that you want to quickly rummage through, over an evening snack. Yes, just meant over tea and biscuits.

A) Where are you from and what do you do for a living?

I am from Delhi but have spent all my life in different towns of India as my father is in the army.I have stayed in places like Wellington and MHOW which are like alien cities to people living in metro cities. I am a Civil Engineer by profession passionate about Green Buildings and Sustainability. I have been freelancing for a travel company and travel blogging and am enjoying every bit of it.

B) What’s the most cliched thing that outsiders say or feel about your city/country?

Indian food is spicy and unhealthy.

Well not all Indian food items are spicy and unhealthy, their is a healthier less fat, sugarless option for all sweets available these days.Of course, some Indian food is spicy, but we never cook too spicy items at home and usually ask for a medium spicy alternative of a dish while ordering in restaurants. The street food of India is hygenic if taken from a decent looking populated vendor.

C) What’s that one dish travellers should try out at your city and where?

It would definitely have to be the Tandoori Momos and the Vodka Momos. I heard their names for the first time in my life when I moved to Delhi a year back, and have become a momo addict ever since.Tandoori Momos are available in Hunger Strike, Amar Colony and the Vodka Momos in Queens Boulevard, Amar Colony.Read more here

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why) and send us a photo with you in it

My favorite city till now would have to be McLoedganj, Himachal Pradesh without any doubt. It was my first trip after relocating to Delhi, India and it spearheaded the urge to travel and explore. It was the perfect catalyst for my Wanderlust. It was a weekend trip after 3 months of hectic job so all we did inMcLoedganj was Eat, Sleep, Relax and Repeat. The place is so welcoming to travelers with so many cafes offering cuisines from around the world and free wifi in all the cafes. I had my life’s best Pizza till now in Carpediem, McLoedganj, so yeah!  McLoedganj is my favorite place till now and will always hold a special place in my heart.

E) What is the craziest thing you have ever done while travelling?

During my trek to Chandrashila Summit in May 2016, it was made clear by our Team Leader the importance of time hence we started early morning at 3 AM for the final summit trek.After walking for nearly 2 hours we reached a spot, where we were told our destination was not that far.While others were still to resume the walking, I took some giant steps and took a good 500 m lead which eventually led to a 1 km lead.When I reached Tunganath Temple, I was crazy enough to halt for 20 min for no rhyme and reason.As a result I reached the summit at sharp 6 AM but missed the sunrise by a mere 15 min. That’s when I realized the importance of time on the hills.I definitely should have been crazier to not take a halt at all and instead just kept moving forward.

Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise
Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise

 

 

If you would like to be featured and tell your stories that may be of interest to the traveller community, do write in to us at Kartik@katchutravels.com

Travel Post Cards 04

This edition features some low resolution photos from the little island of Gili Trawangan in Indonesia

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

 

If you go to Bali, and are quite fed up with all the touristy actions along Kuta, and if you’d like a Robinson Crusoe experience, in a quiet island, but with SCUBA Diving, Partying, Beach Cafes and no honking at all, go pick any of the 3 Gili Island. These islands are closer to Lombok province of Indonesia (Air Aisa flies to Lombok now). The rampant tourism in Bali spoilt the ecosystem, and brought in traffic jams to an island that feasted on palm trees and the sea. The locals fearing the same, decided that Gili will not meet Bali’s fate and they decided to have no vehicles on the Gili Islands. Also, there is no police on the island as the people govern by themselves and police comes here once in a while to check on things. The island is idyllic with white sand and blue waters, and despite its flashpacker vibe, the island still is never as crowded as the beaches in Bali. On an index of crowded to totally Crusoe level, you move from Gili Trawangan > Gili Meno > Gili Air.  To know more, there will be a series of detailed posts on the island shortly.

Open Air Toilets in Gili Trawangan
Open Air Toilets in Gili Trawangan

 

Cidomo- The only mode of horseback travel on the Gili Island
Cidomo- The only mode of horseback travel on the Gili Island

The Sights and Smells of the Charminar at Eid

In a city of 7 million, if 3 million people spend a period of 10 days shopping after sunset and feeling great, it must be a place with a lot of good vibes and energy. I decided to visit the Charminar during Eid in 2016. I called up Ravi and Avinash, a couple of Hyderabadi friends, who decided that they would also learn a bit about photography, and also help me navigate through the maze of roads leading to the Charminar. We parked the bikes on a lane far away from Charminar, and took note of the place, sending between us the geo location of the place, since every road looked the same. There was a charm and beauty in an old city where the houses looked similar.

As we walked down the road, we could see the Charminar from a distance, but there was a huge sea of humans thronging the place, walking across streets. The charminar was glowing, from all the lights in the distance. It was beautiful to see the city so alive at 10 pm in the night. The ladies were thronging by the perfume shops, and I decided to go have a look, instead of standing by the sugarcane shop, or the tea cup shops or the cloth shops. On closer examination, and through the bokeh of my lens, I found a colourful world further enhanced by the aroma of the scents on display. I was asked to spray some scent and try it on. I found the scent too strong, and decided to watch others try it out.

Scents and Colours at Hyderabad
Scents and Colours at Hyderabad

The scents in the glasses and outer covering on a 50 mm lens, were decked up to the T. The shop keeper’s son came forward and noticed that I was not quite trying out, so decided to ask me, what I do, and when he knew I was a travel writer and photographer, he uttered those 3 words that most people do-” Ek Photu Please”. I did a few shots to humor him, noted his email ID, and promised to send him his pictures in a couple of weeks. I had a glance at the beautiful golden shade of the perfumes and decided to move to some of the shops that seemed to have a list of perfumes.

Scents laid out at Charminar
Scents laid out at Charminar

 

While I could not quite pick a winner to recommend a perfume, I liked the way the perfumes were shown with different names. The earlier shop that I passed by had no names. In that way, a little colour and character over random items.

Charminar's Perfumes
Charminar’s Perfumes

There was a throwback to a yesteryear world, in the way the fonts were, and the way they communicated. Intimacy is indicated by a simple font. They haven’t used any model to convey their communication or used any skimpy clothes to show passion. Show a bit about how we folks express our love in this part of the world. I’d love to see such local flavour retail at experience stores at the Hyderabad Airport. I am quite blind to these foreign brands that are sold at the airport, with the only real local item being the Karachi biscuit store. Maybe these perfumes being sold as is at the airport makes a case? What do you think? Do let me know in a comment below.

Exotic Perfumes at CharminarExotic Perfumes at Charminar

By the time, I walked down the street, despite the light rain in the air, there was a lot of heat from all the lights. I managed with frequent stops for juice, but when I saw the spicy samosas mid way, I stoppped by. There were other people too, who were admiring it like the way, I was.

Spicy Samosas at Charminar
Spicy Samosas at Charminar

Just like an oarsman, who is delighted after seeing the shore, after a while at sea, we were delighted at seeing the Charminar. We admired the monument, and walked around it and proceeded to walk to the other side and we saw a group doing a photo walk. You’d find a bunch of people with cameras trying to stop at this very place to try and get a good composition of the Charminar.

Zipping through the Charminar
Zipping through the Charminar

The Charminar stood silent there, while vehicles zipped past the monument leaving trails of light. I too tried staying as still as the Charminar, but I figured out that this was a huge challenge. I could not stand there and feel completely safe about it. The Hyderabadis have a funny way of driving extremely fast on these crowded roads and then applying brakes just to get attention. I have a 30 X 15 cm area to stand on, with my tripod and making sure that my camera bag is not jutting out. My hosts Ravi and Avinash, help guard me on either sides, requesting vehicles to avoid getting close.

Motion by the Minars
Motion by the Minars

In between these shots, I had a person come over to me, and abruptly say “Bhai Meri Photu Lo” and he started posing right in the middle of my composition. I was perplexed and decided to smile at what happened and asked him what frame did he want. He asked to take whatever I could. I took this shot, and showed it to him, and then he walked away happy, even before I could ask him his phone number(Whatsapp) or email ID. Reminded me that maybe next year, I should look at buying a portable printer to pass a shot to all those people who ask me a photo. Its just another JPEG file for me, but for them, it could be a window to expressing themselves and be wonderstruck. That’s the power of a photo in print!

Ek Selfie Le Le re
Ek Selfie Le Le re

 

And then some time later, a vehicle passed passed by, and whizzed past us, and when we looked back in the camera, it looked like we had spotted a UFO in Hyderabad, but dont worry, that’s just Long exposure trails being applied to the frame of the Charminar.

 

UFO Speeding at the Charminar?
UFO Speeding at the Charminar?

 

And then it occurred to me, how beautiful it would be if the vehicular trails of light could be captured around the Charminar. We had to choose a spot high enough that would allow me to a semi-panoramic view of the Charminar. We moved to a nearby coffee shop, and then found this view from there. It was almost 3 am, and the Charminar still had a steady stream of auto’s raging through the limited spaces, while it stood glowing amidst its surroundings. Slowly people started to retire for the night, and we found ourselves mentally tired. We knew, our time was up. Our senses and vision had just seen a beautiful array of people and objects, and now after 4 hours and many conversations, we decided to respect our bodies, and maybe come back again next year.

 

The Charminar shines through the night
The Charminar shines through the night

And then, my hosts Ravi and Avinash, decided to end it up digitally with a selfie against the Charminar! Maybe that’s how we say “All’s well that end’s well” in these times of digital narcissm

Travellers taking a Charminar Selfie

 

Food from ‘The Hole in the Wall’- Jannal Kadai in Chennai

As I walking down the crowded North Mada Street, and proceeded to turn right at the Ponnambala Vaidhiyar Street, the fresh smell from the flowers vendor’s catch, warmed me up for the gastronomic fare that lay ahead. I had heard about the ‘Window Shop’ (Jannal Kadai )store, that serves delicious evening snacks and breakfast near the temple, but had never managed to go there, despite being a local in the city of Chennai now for 26 years.

Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore
The Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore

I was a 100 metres away from the ‘Jannal Kadai’, and I had to wade through the sea of people who were walking in and out of the majestic Kapaleeswarar Temple. The temple, was facing one of its less crowded days. I have been here during the Mahashivratri festival and have seen crowds swell here, so today was mildly pleasant, also helped by the fact that Chennai was going through a rainy spell, so the humidity was bearable.

Jannal Kadai in Mylapore-Chennai
Crowds thronging ‘Jannai Kadai’ in the evening.

I walked a bit further and tried to spot where this shop was. A little further down the road, I saw a bunch of people crowding near a window. Could it be a flower vendor shop, or was it ‘THE JANNAL KADAI’? I saw people holding plates and consuming food. Maybe this was the place. I moved a little closer to the window, and saw a man, at the counter sitting at the level of the window, cross legged and collecting cash into a box. Flanking him were a couple of his team mates who were making ‘Bajji’, ‘Bondas, ‘Idli, ‘Vadai’ and ‘Dosai’. A quick 5 course (you-could-call-it-that-way) menu of an evening snack, by the temple.

Jannal Kadai in Mylapore-Chennai
Crowds thronging ‘Jannai Kadai’ in the evening.

 

The window to the shop, was partially covered by dried lemons and the image of a demon occupying space. Usually this is a sign of warding off evil spirits, usually found in many parts of South India at estabilishments, and even on vehicles. The more colourful are found on national lorries that ply on highways. The Tamil comedian Vivekh, takes a pot shot at such beliefs against Colourful demons-on-Lorries’ in a yesteryear movie called Minnale. [Watch it here from 1:50 to 4:25]

Looking through the window of Jannal Kadai
Looking through the window(Jannal)

As we lounged inside, and spoke to the person at the cash counter, we are told that this place is about 10 years old. Maybe he meant it for the business, but this was operating out of an olden days house, and the house must be a lot older. We settled for 2 plates of Dosai’s and 1 plate of ‘Molaga Bajji’. Just as we ordered, a fresh batch of bondas was placed by the windows to help the consumers make their choices easily, in the absence of a menu card.

Appetizing crisp bondas on display at Jannal Kadai in Mylapore
Bonda Ready Saar

We chose to give the bonda a miss, since I needed to be home. The Dosai, was made wet by Sambhar and chutney on it. The plate finished in double quick time, and I was gastronimically ready for a few more, but since I had to be at the other end of the city, I chose to settle the bill, and come back to Mylapore for a more detailed date with my stomach at the various eat outs in Mylapore. The Hindu newspaper, has done a good job in listing the places in Mylapore that you should keep a look out for. Do view them here, and come back to this blog, for more detailed reviews of all of these eat outs.

 

Till then, if you plan to go to this place, use this Google Maps Link.