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Showing posts from January 11, 2016

Gwalior ka Mela - Khajala and giant Papads at the Gwalior Trade Fair

Note: This post is reprised out of my memories in the winter of 2014, spent in Gwalior. About a month ago, I noticed a hive of activity in the otherwise sleepy city of Gwalior - bemusing if catchy, announcements  welcomed you to try everything from a Car to Chaat Masala at the annual Gwalior Mela. Soon, almost everyone was talking about it. I learnt that the fair was started nearly a century ago by the Maharaja of Gwalior, to promote trade in the region and is regarded as one of the biggest trade fairs in India. Locals tell me that up until a few years ago, all goods sold at the fair were exempt from sales tax. The mela is indeed huge; with stalls spread across the sprawling mela grounds, you need a good 5-6 hours to see it all. Everything from cars to kitchenware and horses are on sale here. An insider told me about leather jackets from Kashmiri leather stalls. Kashmiri leather is regarded to be of very high quality - grass fed lambs, grazing the Himalayas yield some of the be

Bakerstreet in Pondicherry and the Galette of Kings

I have been away from home ever since I left for Bombay in 2010, and that's the last time I brought in the new year with my family. My folks were quite resolute on not letting that trend continue into 2016, and so I was joined by my parents and younger brother in Chennai. I found myself at an Army New Years party after nearly a decade (I am not much of a NYE party person), I was unsurprised to note that the mess food tastes exactly the same, as it did all those years ago. In fact, the menu items hadn't changed a bit either! No matter which part of the country you're in, the Officers Mess shall always have Dal Makhni, Kashmiri Pulao, Raita, Chicken Curry and Ice cream on the menu! En route to Pondicherry,  we stopped by for a tour of Mahabalipuram’s Shore temples and headed over to Santana for lunch. I foolishly parked my car right under the restaurant in the narrow lane, by the beach. After a while, many cars piled up behind mine, and by the time we came out, I cou