Meandering Around Minara Masjid

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Revisiting the area around Minara Mosque in Crawford Market was the same yet different this year. For one, it was not raining which was a positive relief to me. Carrying an expensive DSLR camera around in pouring rain wasn’t an experience I was looking forward to.

All of you, who are new to this page, must be puzzled already by the oblique references. You can go back to an earlier post aptly named “Twelve Pots A Simmering” for more details. I was in the streets near Crawford Market in Bombay where during Ramzan food stalls crop up and swell in size as they get ready to serve the devout Muslims breaking their fasts after sundown. The virtual cornucopia of food attracts foodies irrespective of their religion, bloggers intent on covering the nuances of this eat street and photographers keen to photograph it all.

I claim membership of the last three groups and had plenty to keep me occupied. The food was delicious and the glow of the bare bulbs cast interesting shadows as I tried to capture the spirit of the place.

We didn’t go for the quails this time but there was plenty for the carnivores. Beef, mutton, chicken in various forms all lovingly coated with a thick layer of oil accompanied by tandoori or roomali rotis (flat breads) and parathas . There was kidney, trotters and tongue for the adventurous and desserts galore.

A stomach filled to dangerous levels prevented me from trying out the delicious biriyani but didn’t stop me from making the obligatory visit to Suleiman Mithaiwala. From the previous year I remembered that the malpua (a kind of deep-fried pancake) was too eggy for me, but the delicious mango and saffron phirnis (rice puddings) didn’t let me down. With a promise to be back again I wrapped up this three-hour food and photography marathon.

Chinese and Grill is one of the well-known restaurants of this area and a special mention has to be made of the extremely colourful, but of dubious authenticity, dish of Thread Chicken these young men were obviously enjoying. Enough to keep the cash registers ringing through the night.

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Think Beyond

In the past one year there has been a lot of discussions about how safe are women in India. Triggered off by the Nirbhaya incident, the discussions escalated as more of more high-profile cases came under scrutiny. The government changed the laws, there was intense debate by the media and a lot of sharing in Facebook and other social media. But how many of us are actually aware of our rights under the new laws? And wouldn’t it be better if we could defned ourselves and not seek legal recourse after the incident?

Think Beyong along with IBS India, arranged a talk entitled Empowering Women — A Talk By Think Beyond on 13th December 2013. The aim was to educate women in law as well as self-defence. Dr. M M Dahikar – DCP Zone X, Ms. Kamayani Bali Mahabal – noted human rights activist and a lawyer and Mr. Joseph Reddy – GM Admin and Facilities, Hiranandani Group were the speakers and covered various aspects of law and legality. It was well attended and well received.

The students of S M Shetty presented a skit on the topic. The martial art demonstration by Ms Suman Basu where she showed how we can use simple moves fascinated and delighted the women present. Mr. Luke Mendes and Ms Malaika Joshi ended the evening with a demonstration of Krav-maga.

Breaking News

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Definition: Breaking news refers to events that are currently developing, or “breaking.” Breaking news usually refers to events that are unexpected, such as a plane crash or building fire. Breaking news can also refer to news that occurs late in the day, close to a news outlet’s usual deadline.

So there you are sipping a cup of tea and watching yet another political debate on the news channel on TV when a scroll goes across the screen…… SACHIN TENDULKAR TO RETIRE AFTER 200TH TEST MATCH. And your heart stops.

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No I am not here to give a similar earth shattering, life-changing news, but I am very excited about it all the same. Theia Photography is changing and growing – with new ideas, new products, new approach and above all new members. Yes a good friend and fellow photographer will soon be joining the studio and contribute her talents. That’s all I am willing and able to say right now. Watch this space for details and you won’t be disappointed.

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Experiments in Photoshop

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Photoshop has never been my tool of choice for post processing; I went for Lightroom almost as soon as it was launched because of its ease of use. But nothing can beat PS when you are trying some major editing and this was one of my first attempts at using various tools like clone, patch, magic wand in conjunction with each other to create a picture dramatically different from the original.

A long way to go yet a good beginning.

Twelve Pots A Simmering

Fast is Over

It was a dark and stormy night and by all rights I should have been at home having a hot meal and making myself comfortable with a good book. But once the photography bug has bitten you then you can’t help but consider the inclement weather just a minor discomfort compared to the joy of taking pictures, especially when it came with the added attraction of tasting the Iftar food in the lanes and by-lanes near Crawford Market.

Come Ramzan and these streets are packed with food stalls selling food for the devout to break their fast. And foodies all over come and join the celebrations by coming in large numbers to taste the food and soak in the atmosphere.

Prayer

So umbrella in one hand and camera in another, I joined my friends to taste the famous Bara Handi (Twelve Pots) in Nagpada Lane. The shop opposite the mosque was more than a hundred years old; the restaurant was full and tables and chairs had been laid out on the pavement to tackle the spill over. The awning wasn’t too water proof and water was splashing down on the tables but it didn’t deter all the brave souls who were actually holding umbrellas over their heads while tucking into the delicious food.

Bara Handi is a bohra dish made of twelve types of curries made from beef or mutton, some thick gravy and some thin salans. The traditional clay pots have been replaced by steel utensils; a clay platform with a fire at its base keeps the pots simmering all the time.

 We had a great variety of dishes from a variety of chicken kababs to melt in the mouth niharis, all accompanied by fluffy rotis hot from the tandoor.


But the treat wasn’t over yet. The rain was pouring down and the roads were dark, wet and slippery and teeming with people when we made our way to Minara Masjid (Mosque) for even more delicacies. All around there were skewers full of meat being roasted, tawas (griddles) spilling over with liver, kidney, tongue, brain and other exotic body parts cheek by jowl with shops selling fruits, dry fruits and sweets of all description.

The second instalment of dinner was a bit more adventurous, magaz (brain) curry liberally spiced, crisply fried quail with chat masala (tangy spice mix), liver and some more kababs to add to the mix.

But we weren’t done by any means and strolled ( or was it waddled) over to Sulaiman Mithaiwala ( Sweet seller) to partake in some malpuas ( fried sweet) and phirni ( rice pudding). To my surprise the malpuas were completely different from the ones I have had in Calcutta and each monstrous creation dipped in sugar syrup and served with rabdi (thickened milk) had five whole eggs in the batter.

Let me tell you that I am salivating while writing this post and will soon be making a midnight snack to alleviate the hunger pangs.

Share with me

Now to try this out in Delhi and don’t worry a report duly illustrated will reach you soon.

South Bombay Revisited

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Photographing the area between Fountain, Gateway of India and Colaba streets has always been a particular favourite of mine because of the impressive architecture and the variety of people on the streets.

It was the first time I was there on a Saturday morning and wasn’t disappointed. Here are some pictures of Bombay as it prepares to wake up to another day.

And a few splashes of colour.

Colour Me Pink

Just learnt today that the flamingos known for their beautiful pink and orange colours are not born that way. The babies have grey or white feathers which gradually change their colour with time because of their diet. They eat algae or shrimp which contain carotenoids (plant pigments) which turn the feathers more and more colourful with age. So if you see a deep orange flamingo, treat it with respect. It’s definitely older and wiser than you.

I went to the Sewri jetty for the second time this year for a photo-walk and struck pink this time. The low tide was just about an hour away and the flamingos were there; not in large numbers but near the shore.

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These lesser flamingos from Siberia congregate at Kutch to breed and then fly to Bombay towards winter in search of an ensured supply of food and water. What saddens me is that these winter visitors may stop visiting Bombay after a few years because of the encroachment of human population into the mangroves. A major threat is the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link which is proposed to come up far too close to the flamingo habitat.

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Using their bills as a strainer, the flamingos separate the algae from the water for feeding. The algae are abundant in the alkaline water of the mudflats.

If you are planning to drop in sometime, do check the tide timings and also visit the Sewri Fort just around the corner. The fort built by the British in 1680 served as a watch tower and has been refurbished a few years ago. Small but worth a trip.

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