Petals, Toil and Business at Dadar’s Phulgalli

Aromatherapy

In this congregated mass of humanity there is colour so vibrant and aromas so powerful that it would match that of any perfumery in the world. Eyes drown in the colour and your nose in the fragrance of a million flowers all stacked in baskets in multitude. A kaleidoscope for your senses. Dadar Phulgalli [flower-lane] takes your traditional Bombay smells of sweat, toil, paint, iron and turns them into the smell of marigolds.. Wipe your brow and you find petals in addition to sweat

Bombay’s entire economy is pinned around one ability- the ability to move its mammoth population from their suburban homes to their work places in the city. This is down to Bombay’s local train system with a miraculous efficiency, it is believed that it carries 6.1 million people a day. Where millions pass, commerce generally follows. I would describe it as a mobile mall. Each station has its bazaar and each bazaar its speciality. You just hop on to a train and simply sample the delights along the way, quite like a giant amusement park filled with 15 million people and a billion opportunities to explore. Dadar station in the geometric heart of Bombay’s main island is one such station. It is an all round super railway hub and one of the busiest train stations in the world. If they ever made the ‘Indian’ Vanilla Sky and they wanted the Tom Cruise Bollywood equivalent running through the Indian equivalent of Times Square, they would probably have him run through a desolate dadar station, the scene could be made even more freaky if they showed an empty Virar fast rush by.

Dadar market is where you can get anything from green veggies to a two hundred rupee sonata ghadi [watch] to fake live strong bands [in any colour] to a pethani saree. In one such galli [lane] is Dadar’s phul/phool [flower] market. Roses, chrysanthiums, marigolds, jasmine, gladiolas, asters, lilies, gerberas, carnations are a few things that line its narrow walls.

Pink

Flowers are big business in India.


The cut-flower market has opened new vistas for floriculturists. Flowers
from Pune and Bangalore are sent to Hyderabad's Jambagh market , which is a
transit hub. Cut-flower exports are expected to double this fiscal from an
estimated $20 million last year

- Hindu Business Line

A boost in agribusiness is a positive economic boost to rural India.
Another positive I found in flower retail which is sometimes overlooked is there is an equal participation among men and women in the entire process. With a few exceptions women for various social reasons do not actively participate in the process of commerce in India. This plays out to be an active barrier against their economic and social empowerment. Also it leads to wastage in an untapped segment of our human resources, a bright one at that. Women add ethics and other values to economies. I’m sorry I’m drifting into economics here.

Dadar Phulgalli, Mumbai, INDIA

Dadar Phulgalli, Mumbai, INDIA

Dadar Phulgalli, Mumbai, INDIA

I did buy some flowers,10 stems of orchids for 20 rupees [value]. The challenge for the day being getting them home to Bandra by train in a second class compartment. Today being Saturday I could easily find a space to stand and get them home without any scratches. I tell you this because they are happily smiling at me with their purple dog like faces from the glass vase on my dining table.

Dissapearing near you.



From car seat covers to credit cards, thats what was found at the bottom of Pune's Mula Mutha river the volunteers of the Indian Maritime Foundation (IMF) found while cleaning up the banks. This is the state of India's water resources and I'm not even mentioned the 'nullah' better known as the Mithi river.


The state of the river banks in Pune can be gauged from the fact that the
volunteers collected more than 8,500 kg of garbage on a single day. In fact, the
JN Petit School team, who were assigned a stretch near Bund Garden bridge,
collected 250 kg of garbage in just half-an-hour. The 800 volunteers filled up
more than 850 garbage bags during the clean-up operation

[Pune Newline]

The environment is often the first causuality of non-goverance. All the ominous signs already flash before us if we only would stop and listen .

Here are some warning signs in Pune.

According to a Paper by S. S. Kharat and Neelesh Dahanukar [ FRESH-WATER FISH DECLINE OF PUNE URBAN AREA ], there where once 114 species from 47 genera and 22 families in Pune's rivers. But in a study carried out in 1995, 18 fish species appear locally extinct form folk perceptions and habitat quality, 30 fish species are too rare and 6 species appear to be in decline.

[Note: this paper was made available by RANVA]

You want to look at Animal Extinction ? Don't head to your nearest Natural Museum - look in you're own back yard.

You don't need to go far to hear about the almost extinct vultures of India. The sad thing they've already become part of grandfather tales. I was happy to see a lone specimen of the great Indian vulture recently at the Pune Snake Park [at Katraj]. He stood there perched up high in his cage, a huge rellic of a bird. He was old in an almost ironic way, an metaphor for his species -his feathers were plucked and his eyes were cloudy with cataract, absolutely saddening.

Question : Have you in the recent past woken up in the morning to the chirping of a sparrows, rather than the usal cawing of crows of the fluttering pigeons on you're Air Conditioning vent ?

I think not.

Question : Have you seen a sparrow recently ?



The answer is that they've seem to become critically endangered in a span of a decade. Inditogether explores the issue .

Apparently this is a global phenomenon - "Disappearance of toads, frogs has some scientists worried"

Here another paper from some Pune Zoologists - AMPHIBIAN DECLINE IN PUNE CITY

I wake up each morning and am amazed at the number of things we kill. I appear to be in a good mood today.

History from an Age of Waste.

I was in Pune for the day, Pune where the 'P' stands for potholes. Speaking about Potholes I saw a flyer when I was there advertising a photography competetion, obviously I gave it a look. Guess what the subject was ? 'Roads of Pune', I almost died laughing -a nice bit of public sarcasm, not to mention 3K to the winner. If I where to send in an entry, this would be it.

Scorched.

If you're as ticked off by Pune Roads as I am you could sign this online petition. Anyways, I was on my way to town and therefore I decided to take a detour through Khadki [Khirkee] Cantonment rather than the dug up Ganeshkind road. For some reason Cantt. roads don't have potholes but roads under Pune municipal limits have large gapping craters.

IMG_6797

I've noticed Khirkee War Cemetry many times before but have never visited. There is a first time for everything. Behind the brightly polished red limestone plaque and the ivy ridden mesh fence lay a rather subdued, a depressing geometric array of white granite grave-stones all neatly paced out in neat rows and coloums, all facing this central block of sombre granite, as if they where in a parade of sorts. You could just imagine men them in uniform standing there on the richly manucured lawn shouting out their name, number and rank. There was a strange sense of history, a thought passed my mind that for each of these commonwealth officiers they're must have been a hundred of Indians who must have perished in strange corners of the globe. There was a history there, a history of an age of waste.

IMG_6786

IMG_6788

An interesting fact about the Khirkee War Cemetry for all reasons it's a soverign part of Britan.Therefore, technically I wasn't in India anymore. I've visited a war cemetry before German World War 1 Cemetry near the Italian town of Brunicho in the Italian Tyrol. It was pretty eerie too, the interesting part about it was they they actually had a section for the jewish soldiers that perished, not to mention their turkish allies.

eu050935

It's Festival Time

Phirni
[Some Phirni]


India is alight in an collective mood of festivity and Indians everywhere irrespective of their persuasion or denomination come together in this collective rhapsody of colour, culture, religion, food and dance. The festivities start Hindu festivals of Navratri, Durga Puja, Dussera and all this with the Muslim observance of Ramzan or Ramadan.

This month long conviviality end with Diwalli and Eid both around the same time. Festivals are great times and for me, they mean two things food and photographs. Here's a short round up in and around Bombay.


Midnight Meals at Mohammad Ali Road.

The red hot charcoal solder as the smoke rises through the tenderised chicken and kebabs into the air, wafting into my nostrils, air such divine. It's a frenzied scene as full pitched bazaar flows by with smiles and sighs under the green glow of the well adourned mosque and the orange glow from the alleviating traffic behind me. I glance at my wrist watch and it blinks backs 00:00 am at me. I frown in disbelief think out aloud, "It can't be tomorrow already, the city is alive and awake" My words at any other time would have been audible but today they seem to have been drowned by the life around me.

"Aao Aao Sahb, Mensahb .. Humare Badiya Khana Khao", "{Come one and all try out our delecious fare} shouted the man next to me in his crisp white kurta and colourful skull cap. Seeing that I was paying him some eye contact he diverted his sales touts to my directions.
People think Indian Bazaars are haphazard, I disagree each market has a finely planned out anatomy. Just like when you're in a department store and you find the Womens section on the first floor, childrens on the second, and mens wear on the third or sometimes on the fourth depending on where they want to put the lifestyles stuff. In the same way the midnight bazaar has womens shoes, everything from skilettos to juttis on the outer rim. There is also other stuff hair-bands, clothes, costume jewellery etc etc but since I'm not the target consumer I ignore. I by pass the shoes with out second look and move on directly to the good stuff, the food. Back to the anatomy we have the dazzling variety of methais [sweets] and food of all shapes and sizes on the left. Food Court Style yet outdoor very cool.

I was there for the sweets and Suleman Usman Bakery was the place to enjoy them. Phirnis, Maalpuas yum. I lapped down a rich and creamy kesar Phirni till my plastic spoon scrapped the bottom of the terrecota cup it was served in. The Maalpaus pure heaven served hot with their crispy brown honey dipped sweet exterior and their custard creamy interior melting in you mouth as your palate just wanted more. Sensory overload.

Making Maal Puas.
[Maalpuas beeing made afresh. Umm..]

You want a piece of this and you're Bombay you could try this walk beeing planned [here], I hear it's filling up fast.


Navratri


I didn't have the honour or the pleasure of particpating nine nights and ten day, this festival of dance, music and celebration. But Charu of A time to reflect did, read her account and extract some vicarious pleasure, you know I did.

Durgotsob

Goddess Kalli

In a words of Rahul of livinghigh, a self-described "Bengalli expat in Bombay"



"Why do I feel like sighing and sniggering, when I see the Bong expats in joints
like RK Mission and Bandra Park and Shivaji Park, clustered around a Durga
murti? It strikes me as a cheap imitation of a Baghbaajaar or a College
Square or a Maddox Square in Calcutta. I always knew I was a snob, but so
much a Bengali chauvnist snob, I didn't guess"

Anyways, I'm not picky about my Raj Bhog and today being Dusera I headed for the Durga Pandal at Shivaji Park. Fun it was I took some picture, eat some stuff I could n't quiet pronounce, all involving fish. Left there content as a cat. Thank god my mother wasn't there otherwise I would have spent most of my time at the sari vendor.

Dussera.


I'm feeling lazy let the pictures do the talking and before I forget.

Happy Dussera Folks !!!

Ravana - Dusera 1
Ravana - Dusera 2
[Here the colour ful effigy of Ravanna that is set alight.]

Britannia & Co

Britannia & Co

Mildew covered Strange old buildings”, are the words that come to mind each time I’m in Ballard Estate. The reason for today’s visit - food, more specifically a type of food , even more specifically a restaurant and to be honest one particular dish - Berry Pulao . What am I talking about you say ? - good ole’ Britannia of course. At the corner of this hugely commanding wonder of oxidation, the War Memorial and opposite New Customs House, where “new” is a tag the building has long grown out of is “Britannia & Co.” A restaurant who’s philosophy “There is no love greater than the love of eating," puts everything into perspective for me, another self affirming moment in my short life.

Even though you count the Parsi joints in Bombay[well in India] on you’re fingers, Edward VIII, Ideal Corner, Jimmy Boy, Paradise, Piccolo just to name a few, but out of all these places Britannia & Co is pretty special. I’m not taking about their fabulous Dhansak which I would count as the best dhansak I’ve ever eaten after Dorabjee’s Poona of course - it’s their Berry Pulao. A dish that makes them unique. As BusyBee famously said, “If it’s Berry Pulao, it must be Britannia.

Britannia & Co

Equally popular is the restaurant's berry pulao, Rs.60 [NOW 160 RS] for mutton and chicken, Rs.45 for veg [NOW 90]. They are the Barberry Berries, at least, I think so. They grow wild in the Middle East, on spindly shrubs, a red berry. In Iran, they are used with rice, in restaurants and in homes, and Britannia's berry pulao comes from Iran. The late Mrs. Kohinoor, though a Parsi, meaning not an Iranian, spent seven years in Teheran as legal assistant to Iran Airways, and brought back with her the berry pulao.
In Iran, the berries are known as zereshk, and the pulao as zereshk pulao. The berries are dry, like raisins, but sour and with a sweet aftertaste. Mr. Kohinoor compares them to dry pomegranate. I would not know, I have not seen a dry pomegranate.
In any case, the berries are cooked with the best quality of basmati rice, then the marinated and masalaed meat placed between layers of the rice. And there is a garnish of cashewnuts and fried onions. Plus, a few kababs. Note: This is the only place in India that you get berry pulao.
- Eating out with Busy Bee

So if you’re looking for some great Parsi food - Salli Boti, Dhansak & daily specials and not to mention their famous Berry Pulao, Britannia is the place to be.


What did we Order ?

My family lives by this simple moto when we’re at a Restaurant - It’s better to over order than under eat. We are not afraid to carry doggy bags back home.


1 Mutton Dhansak [Comes with rice]
IMG_6649
1 Chicken Dhansak [Comes with rice]

1 Berry Pulao

IMG_6651
1 Bombil [Bombay Duck] Fry


IMG_6648
1 Salli Boti

Desserts

2 Caramel Custurds

Note: Everything was Brilliant.


Address in Full : Britannia and Company Restaurant, Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16, Ballar Estate (Pier); (91-22) 22615264. Open for lunch, snacks and drinks Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but lunch only 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Closed Sunday. No reservations or credit cards.

Bharatiya Blog Mela - 6th October.

Yama
[image by elishams]


Greetings and welcome to the 6TH October, 2005 edition of the Bharitiya Blog Mela. My reconnoiter of the Indian Blogosphere complete, all thanks to some fabulous nominations on you'’re part. To be honest there has been some confusion [here & here] along the way but I think the end product should be to your liking. So without further adieu here is my compendium of the Indian Blogosphere this week, a job Desipundit those so well on a daily basis.


Announcements !!


Firstly, Desipundit adorns a new look [bright and shiny], all thanks to Nimbupani (have a dekho) . Also there is an notice on the BBM website that tells me that there will be Mela hosted this weekend which has left me with allot of unanswered questions and a tad confused. Thanks you, Saket for the clarification.


Society & Culture with a hint of Politics.

Sunil Laxmam of Balancing life, which I remind you always makes for an interesting read, talks about director Bimal Roy’s long standing legacy to Indian Cinema as he revisits Bandani. A fitting tribute to the movie master.

Vivek keeps his cards to himself as he presents his confabulation of the card game 29 and more specifically IITB invention variation of the game rapid 29. Here’s an extract.

Diplomacy and 29 go hand in hand. You keep your cards hidden. You try to find out the other party's (even your partner's) cards - by guessing, by calculating/counting and even by cheating! You keep a card to win you the last hand. You bluff. You lie. You exchange verbal and non-verbal signals. You use the cypher.
I’m trying to learn twenty-nine as we speak, very interesting stuff. Reminds me isn't Diwalli around the corner.

Amar of Amar Akbar Anthony asks , the tomato is known as tamatar, so why isn't the potato called patatar? Why is it instead called aaloo? He goes on and answers this question delving in to etymology of these commonly eaten yet foriegn household vegetables and comes out with some amazing results. The curious incident of the non-existent patatar . Just to add my bit in Bombay the humble potato is still called Batata after the Portoguese name for the same. This is a case for Dick & Garlick.

Ashish of Ashish’s Niti laments the fate of many Indian athletes as he hears about the story of a power lifter in Orissa who was forced by penury to sell her medals.

Sakshi of “to Each its own” profiles India’s Independent Women. The list includes Women behind Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, Dr. Kiran Bedi, Shabnam Ara Begum, Mrs. Simone Tata among others. All positive role gender defying role models to Indians everywhere. She also explores unethical use of influence many Indians have no qualms summoning up at will.

Roop of Incoherent Digressions, philosophises connotations about truth. Gawker adding - the ultimate truth is that there is no such thing.

Sonia of Colour of Water presents the second edition of her column, The Dying of the Evening Stars that looks at the lives of Bargirls after the much talked about ban.

Well, the ever Curious Gawker tell us now how 2nd October has been reduced to Blame-Gandhi day, a popular holiday among post-independence baby-boomers, is celebrated every year on Mohandas K. Gandhi's birthday to commemorate the evils that have befallen India due to the life and legacy of Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Charu of A Time to Reflect talks about HIV and Morality in Tamil Nadu, throwing light on the hypocrisy brewed up by the latest happenings in Chennai involving a discotheque and some pictures. Sambhar Mafia calls it the Shiv Sena influence in Chennai. While Verbal Rhapsody is left asking Where's privacy? not in Chennai! All this stirs up more posts here and here.

Saket of Vulturo ruminates over whether what somebody those with his or her time which has no bearing on his or her vocation gives his or her employee the right to fire them. Stating Kate Moss and C17H21NO4 as example. Also, Saket in conjunction with Raven of Reality Café call to arms an initiative to google bomb Musharraf for his insensitve comments. Here's me doing my bit - “Musharraf you Insensitive Jerk.”

Nitin feels that the on the road to a ‘happy married life’, an HIV test is not the answer the truth is.

Aparna in her patented News Limerick style wonders about Oscars, Paheli and it’s Indian Spirit and all this is in 28 words. Amazing

Anand of Locana, talks about Chandrababu Naidu in his latest post, The poster boy's latest debacle.

Vijay tells that it’s Hard to compose "bad" music

Business & Economics

Govindraj Ethiraj, readies us to get Bangalored, well not by Bangalore but by rural India.

New update: India is not even in the same league as China. It’s like Mike Tyson at his peak versus Keshto Mukherjee, adds The Indian Economy Blog. The question here is why are we comparing the two in the first place.

Rashmi Bansal those her bit to add to the N number of Biz school surveys, the media and their market reasearch partners produce and publish annually and all around the same time I must add.

Nitin Pai of Acorn, lauds BPO for not heading Union Network International's call to join the trade union

Technology

IndiaGenie shows off pictures of TVS's ultramodern prototype for the autorickshaw. Here have a look.




Ink on Paper, Fingers on the Keyboard :


Broad Mode of Thought Safari lifts out a wondrous piece of poetry which somewhat inspired my title. Here’s a gist.

The scent of fresh ink,
The brilliant blue…

The mild yellow of ageing paper,
The soft crinkle…


Doesn’t that leave you with the nostalgic smell of carbon black.


Flickr Zietgeist



A picture called Varanasi Morning by Claude Renault, you can see some more Brilliant photographs from him here. Or you visit his website here.



A picture by Architronics as part of her Parsi Culture Pool.



A game of Polo in progress, a photograph by Mukund De.

The look

The Look, an image by Sudurshan. If you want more Sudurshan has a photoblog called StillPicture.


That's it from me, I hope you enjoyed the mela.
The next Mela will be hosted at India Genie

Tags : India, Bharateeya Blog Mela

Girgaon Glimpses : Kotachiwadi

Face to Face

Pachva Gulli Right koh !” (fifth lane to the right), the paan-wallah said to me has he buttered his limpid green betel leave with chuna (Edible lime) . Heeding his advices, I walked down the buzzing streets of Girgaon passing decrepit yet beautiful Bombaiya buildings, all built in the 1920s and the 1930s the odd ones in the 1900s or 1940s. With their soiled exteriors and cracking interiors they stood there seeing entire through decades through, making me wonder what sights each of them must have born witness too. To my left a steady torrent flow traffic moved , chaotic yet disciplined just in case a mamu [Bombay slang : traffic-cop] lurked at the next corner or at the next intersection. B.E.S.T bus number 88 in her giant red solid iron avatar flashing SRK’s latest lux ad as she pushed her way through the narrow street followed by some yellow & blacks. I peared into each gulli as I passed hoping to see something new and differrent, I would find women hanging out clothes to dry or an elderly bespectacled gentlemen on his old creaky chair watching the world go by as he read his afternoon newspaper. Casual sights for the casual eye.

Girgaon is an interesting part of Mumbai’s social fabric, part of the old urbanised Bombay so to speak. Interestingly like Old Pune is divided into Peths (burrows), Girgaon is divided into Wadis. These sub-divisional hamlets are signs of local urban Indian town planning.

Wadi’s, or hamlets are distinguished by low rise and high density housing with unique architectural and cultural nuances. Most wadis are organized on the basis of religion or caste. Bhangwadi, Popatwadi, Dabholkarwadi and Khotachiwadi are some of the wadis scattered over Mumbai. Though a part of the urban juggernaut their progress seems to have been on another trajectory. They still retain much of their traditional architecture that informs daily life patterns.
[source : Khotachiwadi.org]

IMG_6485
[Girgaon Road, Mumbai]

This brings me to my destination, one such wadi, Khotachiwadi. I turn right into narrow lanes that marked khotachiwadi and I’m in another world and this time I mean it quiet literally. There is an almost spell bounding change in my environment. From the clutter of multi-storied buildings and the distant shadows of skyscrapers, I now find myself in a goan village, with the architecture and buildings to suit.

Khotachiwadi, typical of any wadi is organized along religion and caste with two communities dominating - the Pathare Prabhu and East Indian Christians. Each has marked Khotachiwadi with their distinct architectural style, festivals,colours and dress.
[source : Khotachiwadi.org]

IMG_6490

I wandered about it’s narrow lanes, exploring what I could and getting a sense of this amazing place. It was too bad I couldn’t make it to the Khotachiwadi festival [read about it here & here & here], not to mention all the glorious food I missed.
Taking everything in, I talk to Charni Road station a few minutes walk nearby. I snack on very Mumbaisque kheema pau (curried mince) and some garam chai before I catch the 6:32 Vihar fast [train] home.

Cycle Sees Red