Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sleep

Sleep is a form of time travel. You close your eyes and you are transported into the past, potential future or into the next moment or maybe an alternate reality.


Sleeping in Mumbai



 I slept in various holes in the wall during my 6 month #76town trip through the Indian coast. However, I never had to rough it out like so.....


Sleepers in Paradeep


 Though my hotel rooms were dirty, small and inhabited by all god's creatures I was better off than this-

Sleeping under a boat


 Being tired at the end of the day absolved all ills of the room and the bed. They say a clear conscience is the best pillow, I say tiredness makes for a lovely mattress.

Cat nap.
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Samir Nazareth is the author of '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'. Read an excerpt of the book here. Read more about the book here. The book is currently available as an Ebook on Amazon here, Scribd here,  GooglePlay here & itunes here The hard copy will be out in February 2015.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Tale of Two Parathas



When one hears mention of  #Paratha's a visual that immediately comes to mind is that of a strapping north Indian eating these greasy shallow fried unleavened bread with a dollop of unclarified butter and a glass of whipped yoghurt (lassi).

But Paratha's are not as simple as the afore mentioned visual. They tend to be complex and not confined to one particular Indian region or cuisine. For one, this bread can be stuffed with just about anything and it can sure stuff one's stomach. Parathas are stuffed with minced meat, finely shredded cauliflower or radish or mashed potatoes, egg and what have you. They are delicious on their own but can be relished with a side of yoghurt and pickle. More importantly this shallow fried unleavened bread can be made from a variety of flour everything from corn to wheat.

The southern parts of India too have their Parathas. These are not stuffed and are made of refined wheat flour. There is the Kerala Paratha, the Ceylonese Paratha to name a few. These retain their shapes when they reach your table.
The Pithai Paratha, before it is broken and bruised

But there is Koothu Paratha of Tamil Nadu and the Pithai Paratha of West Bengal that lose their shape as part of the final dish.

The Koothu paratha is actually a paratha or two noisily minced with iron spatulas over a large hot iron griddle to which is added a variety of spices. As per the order an egg could be cracked over it, vegetables could be added or pieces of shredded chicken thrown in.

The Pithai Paratha, is something different. It is a large thin paratha that is beaten black and blue by the cook with his bare hands. This broken shapeless mass is put on a plate and served with a side of chickpeas or anything else. Mind you the paratha is not torn asunder, just beaten.

There is no one particular definition of a Paratha, just as there is no one definition to what makes an Indian.


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Samir Nazareth is the author of '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'. Read an excerpt of the book here. Read more about the book here. The book is currently available as an Ebook on Amazon here, Scribd here  and on GooglePlay here . The hard copy will be out in February 2015.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thoughts on Bangaluru/Bangalore


Bangalore/Bangaluru, I am sure is unhappy as it compares its staid name with those of its townships and apartment complexes. These are grabbing large chunks of its varicosed veined land which are then rechristened with trippy names and names that drip with exclusivity and achievement. Such islands of exclusivity, where everything is perfect and just right, is a complete antithesis to the route one has to take to reach there – I am speaking both literally and figuratively.

A newbie entering Bangalore/ Bangaluru would naturally assume that s/he is in the wrong city. This technological hub of India, where the brightest minds (okay engineers and their ilk) come to toil and so grow rich has very few hoardings advertising the many software/technology/e-commerce companies that have made this city their home.

Infact, on the drive from MG Road to the Airport, I noticed only one hoarding being used by a technology company. All space had been grabbed by reality firms selling dreams, views, recognition, status everything that they allege money can buy.

The success of the IT industry should not be gauged by the number of IT millionaires or the number of IT companies in Bangalore/Bangaluru. Instead, this success should be measured by the growth of the reality industry and the price of space (including in terms of money) that one has to pay.


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Samir Nazareth is the author of '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'. Read an excerpt of the book here. Read more about the book here. The book is currently available as an Ebook on Amazon here, Scribd here  and on GooglePlay here . The hard copy will be out in February 2015.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Some forms of fishing in India - I


To all fish lovers, is your catch colour blind? If not, why do fishing nets differ in colour? Is it because of different refractive indices of water in different parts of the sea? And is the differences dependent on salinity and water temperature? I dont know, but I do know that there are different nets used.

I realised this on my 6 month journey through 76 towns.  Fishing did not only differ according to quantum of water, but also on the types of nets used. Nets changed in size, gauge, length, shape and even colour. In some regions the nest were white, in another nets were red and in other places they were blue. In one of the coastal villages i visited fishermen were dyeing their nets green.

Red fishing nets being prepared at the fishing pier in Malpe

The length of the nets can be seen in this snap of fishermen bundling a fishing net in Poompuhar


Tidal nets that are strung across the tidal plan to prevent fish from swimming back to the sea as the tide ebbs. Dahanu

Fisherman scooping fishing from puddles in the rocky tidal plain in Dahanu



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Samir Nazareth is the author of '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'. Read an excerpt of the book here. Read more about the book here. The book is currently available as an Ebook on Amazon here, Scribd here  and on GooglePlay here . The hard copy will be out in February 2015.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Children in small town India

Children have the ability to entertain themselves. They are still immune to the diktats of social mores. This quality allows them to remain still, create something from scrap and find joy in things that older people have discarded.

On my 6 month trip through 76 towns I had many opportunities to see children.

A boy watching the waves with a crow for company in Bhimunipatinam
This was before the time of the cell phone, where the world was still their oyster. Where their skills to build had to do with creating pieces of value instead of reaching the next level of some game on their (or their parent's) phone.

A scooter without wheels and a seat is still a thing of interest.

A young boy and girl sitting amongst fishing boats in Tranquebar

Children body surfing with planks of wood in Tranquebar

Children with flotation devices built by them in Byet Dwarka.
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Samir Nazareth is the author of '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'. Read an excerpt of the book here. Read more about the book here. The book is currently available as an Ebook on Amazon here, Scribd here  and on GooglePlay here . The hard copy will be out in February 2015.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rameshwaram

The holy town of Rameshwaram is an island. The significance of the railway bridge that connects the island to the mainland can be seen inside the Ramanathaswamy temple. This was one of the 76 towns  that I visited on my 6 month trip through the Indian coast. 
A street scene with the temple in the background.


In Rameshwaram, I found a place to stay near the Ramanathaswamy temple. I did not know that it was also close to the fishing pier too. The realisation first hit my nostrils. It was here that I met some kar sevaks and also got to know of a Gurudwara here where a family member of Guru Gobind Singh is interred.
The tide is very low here and one can walk quite far into sea.
One of the peculiarities of this place is the low tidal plain which allows people to walk quite far into sea. This also allows pilgrims to bathe in the sea without the worry of drowning. That is the reason why this place has bathing ghats. The stairs that lead to sea also become places where priests sit waiting for devotees to ask them to perform rituals


An old priest waiting under the umbrella.

The Ramanathaswamy temple houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and is therefore a very important pilgrimage spot. The temple also has 22 wells at which the faithful bathe. For those who have been to the Ramanathaswamy temple did you look at the ceiling? For those going to this holy temple please look at the ceiling and for those not planning to go to this temple my book '1400 Bananas, 76 towns &1 Million people' gives you the reason why the ceilings are a must.


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Samir Nazareth is the author of '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'. Read an excerpt of the book here. Read more about the book here. The book is currently available as an Ebook on Amazon here, Scribd here  and on GooglePlay here . The hard copy will be out in February 2015.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Streets of small town India

On my 6 month journey through  #76towns I spent all my time on the streets of these towns. I would wake up grab a snack and a bunch of bananas and head out. Through the day I would walk, stopping to speak to people, spending time on life altering decisions like whether I should  turn right or left.  Streets take on the identity of their surroundings - they can become shopping areas, they can become places of rest. Sometimes the streets are so large in small town India that people are not too sure what to do with the space. One sign of progress of a town is when hoardings begin to appear on streets.

A street in Malvan. This small town is known for its cuisine.

For some reason when I see these trucks I am reminded of elephants

A street in Karwar, on the west coast of India

A street in Thirussur, in front of the basilica

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Samir Nazareth is the author of the book '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People' The book is currently available as an Ebook on Amazon here, Scribd here  and on GooglePlay here . The hard copy will be out in February 2015.