Pursuit

If you live in India or have ever traveled to India in the second decade of 21st century, you would have found a lot of places having fancy street foods, specially, in the metropolitan cities like, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

If you exclude the posh areas of New Delhi and NCR(National Capital Region), and then walk on a very normal street/roads which connects welfare housing societies, you are likely to easily spot the following roadside options like, Ice-Cream tricycles, Open roof stalls of Sugarcane Juice, roasted corn and maybe the push-truck(thela) tickiwala(also called, Chaatwala).

An addition to this group is the roadside “Gol-Gappe”(also called PaniPuri). Now, what’s PaniPuri? It consists of a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water (known as imli pani), tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas. The complete setup on which Gol-Gappe, Pani and other spices are placed is very easy to carry and move, and also can be quickly placed anywhere and can start selling it back. Now you are thinking, why I am writing about all this stuff? Here’s why.

Every evening when I am traveling back home from work, in the last part of the transit I have to make a 20 minutes walk to get to my apartment. In these 20 minutes, starting from getting down from the auto, finding the Panwari(guy who sells Paan, which is made up of betel leaf with areca nut) and cigarettes(which is sold more than the paan these days), interestingly, his wife also sits during late hours to keep the business up. Some 200 steps ahead, I find the Ice-Cream tricycles from Vadilal, Kwality Walls, Creambell and newly famous Havmor, which is expensive to my pocket. 😛

After 5 minutes, I find a little boy selling Gol-Gappe at the corner of the right turn of the road. I walk towards him, and ask for the rates. He replies, “4 pieces for 10 bucks”. I said, “Can I have it?”, he offers me a dona(which is a paper bowl). The Panipuri tasted amazing!! 😀

Yesterday evening, I left early from work and while getting back home, I met the boy again. He is 3/4 of my height, considering I am not tall, so he looks short. He should be around 10-12 years of age. I asked him, “What’s your name?”. He replies with a smile, “Vansh Gupta”. I asked him if he goes to school, he replies “Yes, I go to school”. With a thought on how he gets time to study, I asked “When you study or do your homework?”, he says “during night, after having dinner”.

I asked him if I can take his picture which I will share on internet with my writing. He shakes his head with a smile. 🙂 I said “Okay, can I take picture of your setup?” And he says “Yes” this time. I also checked with him, “So, where are you from and who else are you in your family?”, to which he replies, “I am Mirzapur(in Uttar Pradesh), and here I have my father and brother who also sell Gol-Gappe, whereas my mother lives in hometown(Mirzapur)”.

He has friends of same age. They also sell Gol-Gappe. One is Rajkumar and another is Komal. I have ate Panipuri from them too. 🙂 Komal is the smart one, like a leader among these boys. I think he likes momos because I have found him eating momos a couple of times. Whereas, Vansh is the good-looking one. But they all are very simple and happy going boys. 🙂

At the age of 12, helping family to earn enough so as to get one time meal is really unbelievably appreciable. Just think about the sacrifices they have been making, like missing their mother, not playing outside in evening so that they help their father and surely not able to spend enough time to learn and study so that in future they don’t need to sell Panipuri.

The least you can offer is a Smile 🙂 to them, do not see them as someone lesser than you and just be good and motivate everyone around you. Life is not easy for everyone.

Tweeting: @thebrokenspecss

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A Indian Snack – Jhaal Muri/Bhel Puri

Welcome to India,

Here we are on the streets of Mumbai in search of a Indian snack, and also a type of Chaat. It’s called Bhelpuri, often identified with the beaches of Juhu in Mumbai.  It is made out of puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy sauce. The recipe has spread to most parts of India where it has been modified to suit local food availability.

The Kolkata Variant of Bhelpuri is called Jhaal Muri. Jhaal Muri (Spicy Puffed Rice) is Bengali cuisine, a dry variant of Bhelpuri and is consumed after garnishing with onions, coriander and lemon juice. I think you are feeling hungry now. 😀

A vendor sells Bhelpuri on the streets of Mumbai.

A vendor sells Bhelpuri on the streets of Mumbai.

Bhelpuri and Jhaal Muri belongs to the food family of chaats, which are salty and spicy snacks sold on carts throughout India. Bhelpuri has a typically Gujarati (Gujarat) balance of sweet, salty, tart and spicy flavors, with different textures as well, including crispy and crunchy from the puffed rice.

Street Food in Kolkata

Bhelpuri can be served in many ways, but it is usually served in a paper folded in the form of a cone and is consumed using a paper spoon or by the ‘papdi’ which is itself an edible component of the ‘Bhelpuri’. ❤

Jhaal Muri served in the paper fold in the form of a cone.

Bhelpuri served in the paper fold in the form of a cone.

Jhaal Muri/Bhelpuri can beat the packet of chips which you take for snacks costing nearly same or even less with vibrant taste.

People in UK can try to find ‘Everybody Love Loves the Jhal Muri Express’ ran by Angus Denoon. Angus is bringing the Kolkata street food to your door step. You can search him on twitter @jhalmuriexpress

Everybody Loves - Jhaal Muri Express by Angus Denoon

Everybody Loves – Jhaal Muri Express by Angus Denoon

Shanti Restaurant in Surrey is another place to visit to have some taste of Indian street food. The restaurant has some fabulous dishes in there menu with different style and taste.

Vikram Vij hospitality shining at Surrey's My Shanti Indian restaurant

Vikram Vij hospitality shining at Surrey’s My Shanti Indian Restaurant

People in United States, especially in NYC can reach out ‘Desi Galli’ in Lexington,NY. Desi Galli has many Indian street foods available under one roof. You can try ‘Kathi Rool’ one of the most yummy food on Indian streets. 🙂

So, plan out for your next weekend with your family and friends to get some taste of Indian street foods nearby you. Hope you Enjoy it 🙂

Namaste ❤

Festival of Lights – Diwali

Happy Diwali.. 🙂

Deepavali.. a Hindu Festival celebrated in autumn every year  with great enthusiasm and happiness in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

Diwali is celebrated around the world, particularly in countries with significant populations of Hindu, Jain and Sikh origin. It is celebrated in almost all the Asian countries, parts of Arab’s, Australia, New Zealand and  also in some parts of Africa.

Satellite picture of India taken NASA satellite on a Diwali evening.

Satellite picture of India taken NASA satellite on a Diwali evening.

Its celebration include millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings. In India, Diya( Oil Lamp) is decorated. Diya’s are available in nearby and are made up of clay. An Indian potter paints earthenware lamps ahead of Diwali.

A women painting the diya's.

A women painting the Diya’s.

A Diya placed in temples and used to bless worshipers is referred to as an Aarti. Diya’s adorn every corner of the house on this very auspicious day and add fervor to the festive spirit.Moreover, a Diya also symbolizes knowledge.

Diya or Deepak, an oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in ghee or vegetable oil.

Diya or Deepak on top of a rangoli, an oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in ghee or vegetable oil.

Rangoli, a folk art from India can be seen on every doorstep. Rangoli patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals.

Colored Rice for Rangoli making

Colored Sand for Rangoli making

The purpose of Rangoli is decoration, and it is thought to bring good luck. Girls, boys and women’s create Rangoli and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways.

A Rangoli design with diya's on top.

A Rangoli design with diya’s on top.

Decorative materials and statue of Goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha are brought to home.

Decorative Materials and statue of deities.

Decorative Materials and statue of deities.

The statue are decorated by pushp(flowes) and wore cloths. Later in the evening, during the pooja (prayer ritual) performed to host, honor and worship one or more deities.

Marigold flowers sold for decorating house.

Marigold flowers sold for decorating house.

Pooja ki thali is used to do Pooja and Aarti.

A plate decorated with Diya's and Marigold Flowes for Aarti.

Puja ki Thali, a plate decorated with Diya’s and Marigold Flowes.

Statue’s of Lord Ganesha and modern day Diya’s.

Pookja Ki Thali

 

Diwali is one of the happiest of holidays in India, with significant preparations. People clean their homes and decorate them for the festivities. Diwali is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India; people buy new clothes for themselves and their families, gifts, appliances, kitchen utensils, small to big ticket items such as cars and gold jewelry. People also buy gifts for family members and friends which typically includes sweets, dry fruits and seasonal specialties depending on regional harvest and customs.

Special Sweets during Diwali.

Special Sweets during Diwali.

Girls and women go shopping. It is also the period when little kids hear ancient stories, legends, myths and battle between good and evil, light and darkness from their parents and elders.  Youth and grown ups graduate to helping with lighting and preparing for patakhe (fireworks).

Crackers are burn during  Diwali eve.

Crackers are burn during Diwali eve.

Happiness is in the air, it’s Diwali everywhere, let’s show some love and care.

Wish you all a Happy Diwali, Namaste. 🙂

India @68

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”      –    Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister

India

 

August 15, India completes 67 years of Independence.

A claimant to the permanent membership of United Nations Security Council, India has remained steadfast to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Once perceived as a land of snake charmers and jewel encrusted maharajas, it is now the software capital of the world, the top Asian destination for investment and as OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) put it recently “India has probably recently surpassed Japan to be the third largest global economy.”

Its not about the number of years but its about how much we are developing each day.

Viva La India 🙂

“Hey, India is no longer the country of Snake Charmers”

Earlier today I was in a conference on web and suddenly a women from the western world asked me “which country I am from?” I replied saying “India”. The very next moment I received a message saying “Its the land of snake charmers, right?”. For a moment I was completely shocked, as how much we have developed in the past 2 decades are not under consideration. There is reason behind it & I want to clarify to the world about our country.

Most of the western countries, including the USA, used to think India of a country with snake charmers and ancient maharajas, where they should visit only for photo opportunities and buying some artifacts. But a couple of years back, we have a US President touring India, who says he is here because he wants to create jobs back in his country. Hasn’t time changed? Or are the people in west are just fooling themselves?

Our surge in the sky of development in the field of science and technology is a clear signal in making world know that India in no more a country of ‘snake charmers‘ which had been portrayed by most of the English writer’s in the past.

We are modern and developed in our own sense of term. The great creates norms and the weaker follows it. We have charted out our own destiny and will continue to do so whatever the odds may arise due to reasons many to count. The ‘Indian-ness’ in our blood will always be there to guide us in all our pursuits of development and progress. We have been able to command and control our destiny and help others to achieve for themselves.

There are a lot of myths about India:

1. “Travelling in India is dangerous” – No No No, We have definitely hit by few terrorists attacks in the pasts but our security system has improved enormously. Specially, the people from abroad are given high security & we welcome you all with respect. “Atithi devo bhava” in Sanskrit, what we call as “The guest is God” in English is the way we treat our Guest.

2.India is a Country – India is not just a country, It a place where many different religion live together without any disputes. It is a country where everyone has right to do anything they want to. Four of the world’s great religions were born in India – Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Today, the vast majority about 82% are Hindus, but with a population of 1.2 billion, that still means that the other religions are well represented. Islam, with 12% of the population, has 144 million followers.

It will be more simple to explain India in the following lines –

When we greet one another, we fold our hands in Namastey because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being. We come from a nation where we allow a lady of Catholic origin to step aside for a Sikh to be sworn in as Prime Minister to a Muslim President to govern a nation of over 80 percent Hindus. It may also interest you to know that many of the origins to your words come from Sanskrit. For example maatr becomes mother, bhratr becomes brother, giamiti becomes geometry, trikonniti becomes trigonometry. We have 5600 newspapers, magazines in over twenty-one different Languages with a combined readership of over 120 million. We have reached the moon and back, but yet you people still feel that we’ve only reached as far as the Indian rope trick. We are the third largest pool in the word of doctors, engineers and scientists. Maybe your ancestors didn’t tell you that we have the third largest army in the world. And even then, I fold my hands in humility before you because we don’t believe we are above or beneath any individual. And Namastey.. 🙂