CHAI, MASALA DOSA AND DHAL

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Looking back on my days in South India I must say that I enjoyed the food very much there.  All the dhal dishes, the variety of vegetable dishes, the spices and fragrant herbal dishes were all very much to my taste, and rice as a accompaniment was delicious.  While sorting through photos the other day I found some of my visit to Vijayawada and the surrounding area in Andhra Pradesh, and I picked out some of the ones that portrayed foods, street food sellers, and chai shops.

Man selling his vegetables using his bike as vehicle, both practical and colourful.  The carts on wheels are also very practical and you see them a lot in all the towns and villages.  The young boy was minding a cool water stall, big smile on his face as he was obviously enjoying this job.

Along the road on the way to Vijayawada we came across a rice harvest, the people harvesting were working in the hot sun, laying the stalks of rice on the road, we were told that the trucks and busses driving over this would dislodge the rice grains and make the job easier for them to gather the rice.

A lovely lady preparing vegetables, and a storage place where the cabbages and green chillies seem to be a popular food item.

Another popular street selling item would be the bananas, I ate some lovely little bananas in South India, they tasted so creamy, a bit like banana ice-cream, delicious. The hot food stall in the dark, this was around Christmas 2009, the smell was very nice and wrapped itself around us while we browsed the other stalls in the area.  It was the first time I saw the Christmas stars on sale, beautiful crafted from light cardboard, I bought some and took them home to give to my grand children.
IMG_5485I’m always fascinated with the vegetable types that I am not familiar with, here are quite a few on display, the okra, and the bitter gourd (though I have tried to grow these in Ireland), not even sure what the purple vegetable is.  I would want to try them all out.  And when I find spices or herbs between them I go altogether enthusiastic.  Loving it all.

Another street food seller, love the amount of green beans, they make any meal worth eating. So colourful too.

Here I cannot remember what this man was selling, I thought some sort of nuts perhaps.  And on the right it was the children that caught my attention more, they were very curious about me for some reason.

About the chai houses I have fond memories too, you would be walking or driving along the road and there you would regularly come across a chai seller, lovely to sit in the shade and drink a delicious glass of chai, and chat with the local people who would be just as curious about you as you about them.  A relaxed way of living, having all the time in the world, the way it should be.  Materialism has not reached these parts it seems.  I still think that rural areas are healthier and nicer to live in wherever you go in the world.  In India you are never far away from other people even in rural areas, it is not a lonely sort of place.  It’s colourful and friendly.  I was fortunate to travel both in Tamil Nadu, in Andhra Pradesh and in Kerala, in each place I made very good friends.  In Kerala my good friend Mary even gave me demonstrations in preparing traditional Kerala dishes, she and her husband also took me into the mountain areas where they showed me a variety of trees that produce spices, very interesting, but I will write about that another time.  My friends, I do hope you enjoyed my little photo journey through this delightful part of the world.

MARSAXLOKK CELEBRATES ST.JOSEPH

The other day while talking with a friendly local shopkeeper, I was told that there would be a procession in honour of St.Joseph taking place tonight. I thought this would be interesting, and a chance to get a real feel of the Maltese people and their beliefs or traditions. Before I came here I did not know anything about Malta or its people, so time for me to do some observation and learn.

In the evening I set off to the church to see what was happening, there were a few locals already seated, and more people started to arrive. Bit by bit the church filled up and prayers started. I found it interesting to hear Malti (Maltese) being spoken, which is an Arabic language, spoken well it has a nice sound to it. A group of local young girls gathered around the altar and started to sing. It was soon after that I went home for a while to put some warmer clothes on as I was freezing, but having returned the church service was still going on and I decided to wait outside rather than make a disturbance of doors opening and shutting. Anyway there were things to see on the square, I saw more and more people gathering. I decided to sit at one of the tables and order a coffee while waiting.  A little later there was a commotion, someone had parked a van where it should not be as it would be interfering with the procession, two police were making sure the van was gone, but the driver was not happy and gave voice to that. Mothers with children, some quite small, were waiting too, all of us now eager to see the procession coming down the steps of the tastefully lit church, it had become quite dark by now. Finally the massive doors were swung open and some of the priests appeared carrying flags, candles and a cross, followed by a dozen or so men dressed in white robes, and wearing white gloves, carrying the very heavy statue of Jesus being taken down from the cross, I thought that it would have been a statue of St.Joseph.

The crowds filled the whole large square by now, they were quiet, the sound of the church bells loud and beautiful filled the air.  A feeling of devotion hung over the crowd as they walked behind the priests and statues praying as they went, I retreated into the background so as not to be disrespectful, and quietly went on my way home to the apartment.

Processions do not take place much anymore anywhere and it is to see tradition living on, and people living with this sense of timing of the season’s passing. I am glad to have witnessed this evening’s happening. I would say that half of the population of Marsaxlokk, which is said to be 4000, was in that procession tonight.
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