It’s raining – bananas!


The banana plant in the backyard was drying up as expected in the summer and was awaiting the chop in preparation for some colder weather. But as the gardener went about his job, this is what he noticed.
We actually had summer bananas! That, even to his experienced eye, was unexpected. That was a couple of months ago!
Today, however, to our surprise, the fruit has actually begun to ripen and it should be ready to eat in a few days.

The bananas, however, are relatively smaller in size than what we got in the winter. That, of course, also led to the plant collapsing under its own weight, and that, too, when the fruit was raw. The result was we did not get to have the full benefit of the crop. Almost all of it was given away to cleaners and other workers, who were delighted to get their hands on the giant-sized fruit. Most of these workers, from Bangladesh and the South Indian state of Kerala, cook raw bananas as a delicious coconut-based curry which we from North India do not.
Since these pictures were taken a couple of days ago, one of the stems has collapsed, but not before the bananas were well on their way to being “yellow”. Many of them I have given away to friends, while some being devoured as dessert in our kitchen over the next few days.
There is almost nothing growing in the garden in these hot summer months, at least until the end of September, so these bananas are like the proverbial breath of fresh air! Of course, this is the natural cycle in this part of the world when the soil replenishes itself for the very productive season ahead!
There’s nothing without a reason as far as nature is concerned!

It’s hot out there but not for them

The blistering summer is upon us in Bahrain – in all its fury.
Temperatures are touching an average of 45C (113F) in the sun, making everyone broil – literally.
However, these remarkable animals – camels – the ships of the desert – seem to be the only ones not affected by heaven’s fury, out in the heat and grazing away on dried grass.
Nature has its own way – and has made each living being differently – camels being among one of the most unique.
There was a time – not any more, of course, when the camel was man’s best friend in this part of the world – giving the locals meat and milk, as well as acting as a beast of burden, tilling land and carrying loads.
But, more than anything else, the camel was the only transport available to the ancient Arabs. Of course, motor vehicles were there as well but few and far between. It were only these rather unstable looking beings that that could often mean the difference between life and death.
These days, however, they are only used for their milk and meat and that, too, not very often. There are only as many camel farms in this country because the numbers of those involved in this trade are fast dwindling.
Sadly, these majestic creatures are now also mostly of interest to the tourists who want to see the “ship of the desert” in the desert!
Just for the record, camel milk and milk products, as well as camel meat, are quite expensive – and could cost four times as much as cow milk and beef!
That’s rather exclusive!


The Big Itch

Over the last couple of months, both our dogs have had an attack of ticks! Wonder which of them got them first, or from where, but they were miserable.
Three-year old Chucky (the Pug-Pekingese) and the much older Tyson (the Desert Dog-Lab ) were continuously scratching and no amount of removing the deadly parasites physically was enough! They would just get back, to the point we had them crawling over the furniture and on our own bodies!
The only option, then, was to skinny shave them (the last resort in the winters) and that’s what happened.
Visits to the local vet, a couple of shots and massage creams and they are on the mend. Several weeks down the line and and they (at least Tyson) is fit again but Chucky still smarts from some left-over blisters.
It wasn’t that simple, however. We had to requisition the bug-sluggers and get the entire house and garden fumigated so that the pesky crawlers did not return – and so far, they haven’t!

All lighted up

National DayBahrain’s all lighted up for the last few weeks. While it is the traditional holiday season in the Western world, Bahrain has its own celebrations. The festive season in Bahrain starts from December 16, which is the National Day.
lights 1This is followed the next day by the anniversary of His Majesty King Hamad’s accession to the throne, which is celebrated as Accession Day. And, of course, a week later is Christmas and New Year’s Day which are must celebrated and enjoyed all over the world. The festivities and the lights will continue for most part of January and give us a ‘holiday’ feeling!
National Day copy

Mumbai, it seems, lives to eat

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A “tikka” joint on Mohammed Ali Road

Five days in Mumbai at the beginning of this month were not enough for me.
Over the last couple of years, I have fallen hook, line and sinker for life in one of India’s most well-known metropolis – not the least because of the hustle and bustle of life there – but for the myriad variety of food it offers.
Mumbai, in one sense, can be called the world’s street food capital and, as I found out yet again, it’s not an understatement.

A generous helping of “missal pao”

The omnipresent vada-pao (mash potato fritters with a bun) can be found in several shapes and sizes and in several forms, as I discovered this time round. The “missal pao”, which is served with a spicy and tangy chutney, is an amazing concoction. So is the ‘vada’ served with the South Indian ‘sambhar’ (spicy lentil curry). And, of course, one has to have the traditional Mumbai offering, the ‘karak’ chai (strong tea), served in a small glass tumbler.

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A hot glass of “karak chai” is a must

The best part of the whole deal, besides the price, is while the hunger pangs are taken care of for a few hours, one never ends up feeling “full”. Perhaps, the ‘chai’ has something to do with it!

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This 80-year old shop outside the legendary VT Railway Station churns out several thousands of ‘vada pao’ every day

This time round, I also made it a point to go to what is supposedly the world’s most famous “street food” street, Mohammed Ali Road. This entire area is known for its non-vegetarian food cooked right on the road and straight into your hands. Just taking a walk along the place can take several hours and you will never be able to see everything.

Food 1
The ‘vada’ is served with traditional South Indian ‘sambhar’

A mistake I made was that I went at night. Daylight is the best time to come, was told later – because that is when one can take in the sights, and the food, much better!
That, of course, is a must for the next visit.