- About Jashuat
- Foodie Alert!
Hey guys 27th December 06
I am here in India for 6 or 7 days already and it has been quite an experience! There’s so much going on in India I have no idea where to start! Let me start from accommodations first… I am staying at Seashore Hotel (along the Colaba causeway area) with Kenneth and Joanne, my course mates from SCI, NTU.
We’re staying at the fifth level, and we have 3 bathrooms here, which I shall dub, the Red Ruby Room, the Green Emerald Room and the Blue Topaz Room. Cool, isn’t it? From our window, we can see the Arabian Sea (it’s beautiful; there’s only the horizon beyond, an unblocked, unparalleled beauty in itself), and sometimes, horse-driven carriages which are so favored by tourists.
We are also staying very near the Taj Mahal Hotel, which is the grandest hotel in Mumbai. God, the people there are freaking rich and the hotel is super extravagant! The toilets there are like what you’d find in Swissotel (Singapore) tt type, plus an additional toilet attendant. Haha Joanne and I are entertaining thoughts of staking out in the hotel and finding a nice rich guy to marry there lol, never coming back to Singapore!
The food here is not too bad, and I am eating well (as usual, when do I not eat well? As jolyn would gleefully agree that im a foodie who eats anything and boonei would say , and I quote “a monstrous eater” ROAR) despite the avalanche of curry, so no chances of me being half my size when I go back to Singapore in 6 months time!
According to the people here, South Indians tend towards vegetarian meals whereas North Indians eat more meat in their diet. There are a lot of vegetarian restaurants here which serve great fare, one of them being KAMAT, at Colaba and it is Kenneth’s favorite restaurant I believe. He thinks to work as an employee in KAMAT, perhaps that is one of his many dreamy fantasies hahah! The staple here for Indians is flour based items, like naan, masala dosa, paratha (pratas in Singapore).
Hmm while the food is not bad, here in Mumbai, I think the vegetarian food outnumbers the non-vegetarian food. And while we are mostly eating at vegetarian restaurants, it is not like we eat green vegetables you know, more like-green-looking veggies hahah.
Their green veggies come in a pasty form unoe, like mashed up green veggies for babies. Hmm don’t really like Ieh… I prefer something that I can go crunch crunch on, and tear my way out of the food unoe? Like tearing apart chicken with my teeth or chomp away on veggie. Here u just glop it down.
In the veggie restaurants, the stuff that we eat are mostly like fried flour kinda stuff, and the veggies are like potatoes, onions and whatnots. I mean I haven’t ate like a plate of just green veggies, like caixin or baby kalian… I don’t eat onions and stuff so I think im lacking in fibre. Sighs. I think im severely lacking in meat too. I feel my carnivorous blood acting up.
A good thing though that they have a lot of cheese here! The veg cheese roll that I ate at Kahlesh the other day (a restaurant like Kamat) was fantastic! I really love their cheese here!
Maybe further up north in Ahmedabad, Gujarat where I’m studying, the staple is meat. Hahah happiness for me then! Im seriously suffering from meat deficiency lol. I don’t care liao. Tonight I am just going to eat at some roadside stall if I cant fulfill my meaty cravings hahah. Why oh why didn’t I follow on my rantings in Singapore to bring like chicken, ham, tuna etc here!
SES (socio-economic status)
In India, the disparity between the rich and the poor is wide, as wide as the Arabian Sea! You have the Really Really REALLY Rich (note the alliteration for added oomph), who are chauffeur-driven in their Mercedes and Lambourghinis flashing their blings blings in their perfectly-coiffed hair, dining at chi chi restaurants, the middle-class still with blings blings but less lah, and the really poor, which are like the beggars on the streets.
I quote from the traveler’s guide to India (Frommer’s), something said by long-time BBC India Bureau Chief, Mark Tully, “When asked the question, ‘How do you deal with the poverty of India?’ he responded, ‘I don’t have to; they do.’”
I think this is a statement that rings especially true, heartless and cruel as it may sound. In Singapore, often when I see buskers on the streets, I would donate money (not much but still, I am POOR unoe) but not so in India.
There are ALOT many beggars on the streets. It is not something I can help to change by donating some money. It is a system overhaul that needs to be done, and something that major in scale needs time. India is changing now I believe, even the little changes, though seemingly minor, like the name change from Bombay to Mumbai, to me, signifies a sort of change in the living system of India.
I felt that kinda change when I went to the Mani Bhavan (Mahatma Gandhi museum), and learnt abit about the kind of changes that he effected. Unoe how in Singapore, we always knew there was this great Indian guy called Mahatma Gandhi, but never really knew what he did? I guess traveling really changes one’s world view. I’m really glad I came to India!
Some nuggets of info abt Gandhi:
1) He married at 13 to his one and only wife, (I forgot her name, paiseh) who was 12 at that time
2) He left for England to further his studies in law after promising his mother not to touch gambling, wine and women
3) He was killed in an assassination attempt where a bullet pierced his body on his way to a prayer
4) He loved his wife very much
5) He died with a martyr, forgiving all that needs to be forgiven and not harboring any feelings of hatred etc
Okies back to the beggars… they live, sleep and eat on the streets. They wash their clothes and hang them dry there. Remember those newspaper reports about homeless people camping out at East Coast? Well the beggars here are somewhat like that, but it is so common an occurrence here that now, after simply 6 days in Mumbai, I’m somewhat immune to the sights of beggars. The stirring of pity that I felt so strongly when I first roamed the streets of Mumbai has now dulled. It is so sad and realistically cruel at the same time isn’t it?
There are mothers hugging babies by their breasts, little children running around trying to make sense of the abundance of time, sometimes running around foreigners (like me), begging for money with their outstretched palms.
The men sometimes double up as “tourgides”. There was once when Kenneth and I was out at abt 5am in the morning to try and take some moonlit shots of the Mumbai street just out where we stay, and this guy, quite short actually, just kinda latched himself onto us. It wasn’t like he was threatening or something, he just kept on talking to us as Kenneth and I walked (Joanne was blissfully sleeping in the hotel). He told us about the gateway of India etc in his half-baked english. After walking with us for some time, he asked us for money at first, like 200 rupees (abt $8). He then changed tack, saying “I don’t need money, all I need is milk and rice for my baby and my wife.”
Well if you guys must know, Kenneth and I declined to give money to him. I mean sometimes when I look on at all the happenings as a third party, I think, “the money I spend on food and material goods like clothes could be better spent on all these poor people” and yet, it is not like I will ever quit buying clothes etc to donate them to the poor.
Having being exposed to a certain std of living in Singapore, I am used to a certain qlty of life (although by Singapore’s national stds, I am poor!) and I do not think that I would ever settle for less. That is the future I carve for myself, and it is something I will strive towards, to maintain and to create a std of living upwards of what I’m having and living now.
Sorry I digress. As I often do. I think there is no need to justify though, as to why I am not donating, for it is but only for the salving of my conscience I guess. Not all those sleeping on the streets seek the pity from others though. Some of them, I can feel their pride and dignity surging from them as they saliently and stoutly live their lives the best they can, refusing the pity of strangers.
The roads here in Mumbai are quite how shall I put it, a revelation I suppose hahah. There is well, an order in its chaotic mess. There are horse-driven carriages on the roads, cows and bulls, sometimes pulling along a cart of goods, and dogs amidst all the other vehicles on the roads. The drivers here are superb, and the taxi drivers here are experts in their chosen craft. They slice and cut corners and other vehicles so effortlessly and efficiently to say the least.
There are no side mirrors on taxis, and in alerting other drivers that they’re cutting into another lane (not like there are clear cut lanes to begin with, more like perceived lanes) they honk. I am constantly bombarded by the honking sounds that I am rather immune to it all.
Okie lah enough with the crap. In one short simple word, the roads here are DANGEROUS! Hahah. They are outta this world, totally mind-blowing roads I tell you. Those safety-first kind of Singaporeans, I suggest u stay in safe little Singapore and be contented in knowing that you’ll never be knocked down when using the overhead bridge.
the pic above was taken when we were taking a cab to Seashore Hotel upon reaching Mumbai. Our first cab ride! It cost 450 rupees? Which is like maybe $18 ba…
a different cab ride w an airy experience
There are a lot of taxis here in Mumbai too, prob cuz it is the capital of India. The taxis are quite cheap as well (of course, how to match Singapore? On the day that I woke up late for 202 exam, 2006, Yr 2 Semester 1, and took a cab from my hse, Pasir Ris to NTU, my heart bled and I had to positively stop my tears from rolling down my cheeks. I swear. The bloody cab fare was like 27 bucks okies!) and most drivers, as I haven mentioned earlier, are expert drivers who honk like mad.
Okies guys, I shall end here liao. Oh anyways, this is one of my most memorable Christmas I think. Cuz it was a vegetarian Christmas. No ham no meat no nothing. Meat!!!!!!!!! Prawns!!!!!!!!! Fish!!!!!!! God I dread to think of Chinese New Year! Benji and Gen Gen, when you two eat good food during CNY, maybe you would like to think of sending o-nee-san some good food as well! I checked out the prices le! For a 20kg parcel from India to Singapore, it cost like 3500 rupees by sal (sea and air, abt one month to reach Singapore). And DON’T KUP my angbao money!
NEXT on Jasmine’s Indian blog: Life at MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad) plus places of interest at Mumbai
Indian word of the day: LASSI – a yoghurt-based drink. Eg mango lassi. It is rich and flavorful and the lassis as well as the fruit shakes sold at Kamat’s is SUPERB!