People At Ramzan Iftar Street Food Stalls

Every year, Ramadan time presents a great opportunity to food lovers to indulge in some excellent non-vegetarian street food. There are street stall in several parts of the city and one can choose from a pick of locations.

It is also a great opportunity to do some night street photography. This year I went to MM Road on Frazer town for my annual dose. For the photos I choose to focus on the people rather than the food.

One finds a few different category of faces at the venue:

  • The Hassled, Harried and Happy sellers – These are the ones profiting from the event. Hassled and Harried by the people thronging their stalls. Happy from the jingling of the cash registers.
  • The Happy and Disappointed visitors – The families and kids actually celebrating the festival. The mood is jovial and happiness is absorbing the festivities in the air.
    Happy and Disappointed are the young crowd, there only for the food having read about it in on the web or FaceBook or a whatsapp forward. These are “Happy” having made to the place after days of planning and coercing friends to join and the thought of boasting about it in the social conversation over the next few weeks. “Disappointed” that the chaos is so different from the calm and A/C of their mall handouts. Plus the food and its presentation does not live up to their perception of the fancy taste or presentation seen online.
  • Collateral beneficiaries or sufferers – The areas where these venues are held have their other inhabitants who benefit or suffer from the events.
    The beggars or pan wala or other business owners who benefits from increased crowd at the venue.
    Similarly local residents and business owners who suffer due to the chaos the events create. Some take it sportively while others grimace through it waiting for the month to end

Below I present some such faces:

A young boy happy with his employment at the grilling counter. He’ll earn a few thousand rupee though the month, and learn the art of grilling kebabs

The Afghan kebab maker. The Afghan christening is only due to the cap. This stall had one of the best kebabs and I kept coming back.

Master Chef overseeing a group of 5 stalls manned by young boys selling a variety of item. A word to the boy lighting up the coal, another to the one grilling the kebabs, a handful of spices in one mixing bowl and a touch of rearrangement to the beautifully placed mutton samosas – skillfully orchestrating the entire show.

The Artful seller. This person had a very interesting style. As soon as someone would come up to his stall, he would instinctively figure out what item was the person keen on. He would then proceed to plate that item and shove it into the buyers hand. Many of a prospective buyers got converted in this way.

Focus and Efficiency was the hallmark of this cook. Thorough sweat and smoke he went on grilling plates and plates of tikkas.

The boy dreamer. Never seen anyone lost so much in thought that he would not even give what the customer was asking. A whack on the back of his head had no effect. Long live the dreamers. 

The festival reveller. These kids were having the most fun. Parked outside one of the closed shops, they were in a world of their own enjoying the atmosphere to the max.

A group of tired visitors. Probably after eating to their fill, this group of young people sat down to rest their tired feet. Maybe settling down the food before going for a second round.

The unwanted accomplice. A kid with a jumbo cap perched on his mother’s lap. Scared of the chaos, not old enough to enjoy the food or the festivities – there probably because no one ta home to take care of him.

The three stages of eating – a full stomach, filling up and ,at the back still deciding

 With a large numbers of kids around this guys was doing brisk business. For the kids, the food was a secondary attraction and this was the focus

The collateral beneficiary. Festivals being out the generous inner self in all of us. 

Finally the sufferers. This fruit seller was hanging around hoping against hope that someone would buy some fruits. Unfortunately against all that meat, fruits were in no ones radar.

Another person suffering through the chaos of the evening. It took 5 back and forth to be able to cross the MM Road


Bike Ride: 1900Km/4 Days Coastal Andhra Solo – Pictures


Bike Ride: Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve – Pictures

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Triplog Day 3

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Day 1

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Day 2

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Day 3



Route Map (Day 1: Light Blue; Day 2: Dark Blue; Day 3: Purple)

Day 3: Palakkad to Bangalore – 457 Km

The morning started as banal as ever. I was not looking forward to the day. It was going to be a long boring ride on divided NH. Was out of the hotel early to avoid the day heat.


On the highway


A good selfie


Breakfast just before Bhavani

Over breakfast I got this bright idea to abandon the NH and follow some backroads. Having been in the Bhavani/Mettur area so many times, I probably know the area like the back of my hand. And that was a gem of an idea; though it did increase the overall distance by around 100Km.

Almost instantly the monotonicity of the NH was replaced by the shaded trees and colorfulness of a country road. I was having fun again.


Selfie under the shady tree


Cauvery at Mettur


On the banks of Cauvery

Past Mettur, I turned towards Pennagaram. This is a lovely route with the road gliding gently over rolling hills. I have been on this route before on another ride. At that time it was much drier and now that monsoon was on its way out, I was looking forward to greener scenery.


How green is my valley


Another selfie under the shady trees

From Pennagaram, I had a choice to take the route via Hogenakal or via Dharampuri. Decided to go via Dharampuri and was home by early evening.




999Km for the trip



Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Triplog Day 2

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Day 1

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Day 2

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Day 3


Route Map (Day 1: Light Blue; Day 2: Dark Blue; Day 3: Purple)

Day 2: Valparai to Palakkad – 190Km

When I woke up, I still was not decided on the route dilemma from the night before. I did make up my mind to visit the Athirappilly Waterfalls.

It was early in the morning when exited the hotel and rode out in the open. I was instantly showered by a light drizzle. The first thought that occurred to me was that I could have slept a little longer.

Stopped at a tea shop and donned the rain gear over a hot cup of tea. That charged me up. Deciding not to wait, I rode out in the rain.


Tea Shop at Valparai

After a little while the rain intensified. Stopped at another tea shop for shelter. This one was beautifully located amidst the tea gardens. I tried to make small conversation with the shop owner, but language was a barrier. So settled down to converse over broken hindi and sign language.


View from the tea shop

After about 30 min of wait, the rain lessened. The route ahead was beautiful , flanked by rows and rows of tea bushes. Driving through was a pleasure. The rain was not gone. Droplets still plastered the visor of my helmet and I stopped often to wipe it clean. Every stop was followed by a series of picture. I will let those do the talking.


Local temple amidst the gardens


   Perfectly manicured tea bushes


Selfie amidst the tea gardens


Scarlet Blooms


Bike Selfie


A porcupine  scurrying away


A path strewn with flowers


Upper Sholayar Reservoir


Sholayar Dam


Tea processing plant

Eventually as the altitude lowered, the tea gardens gave way to dense jungle. A number of waterfalls started emerging out of nowhere.


Waterfall en-route


Bike Selfie


Idamalayar Reservoir


Wild flowers on the way

A few Km before Vazhachal Waterfalls, I stopped at Poringal Junction for a much-needed break. The rain had stopped, so I stowed away the rain gear. Lunch/breakfast was two boiled eggs washed down by two glasses of tea.


The tea shop owner preparing my lunch – boiled eggs and tea


Keeper of empty bottles

 A little ahead I exited the Kerala Forest department checkpost. Immediately after that was the Vazhachal Waterfalls. There is a single ticket for both Athirappilly Waterfalls and Vazhachal Waterfalls. The place is well maintained and quite clean.


Vazhachal Waterfalls

After spending a little while at the falls, I moved to the bigger of the two falls. Athirappilly falls was equally well maintained. At the falls, there is a small trail that leads to the bottom of the falls just to the edge of water. It is a steep with multiple switchbacks descending down. While the heavy riding jacket made the going tough, the humidity meant I was sweating profusely inside.It was good I stopped for the two eggs and tea.

The view from down was well worth the trouble. Mist from the falling water drenched everything.



Athirappilly Waterfalls from below

After laboring up the steep climb  I walked to the edge of the water falling down. The view was mesmerizing. Here I sat down a bit finishing the two trail mix bars I had.


Athirappilly Waterfalls from top


A monkey enjoying the ice cream  it snatched from an unsuspecting kid


View of the waterfalls from the main road

After leaving the falls, I decided to drive down towards Chalakudy and follow the highway towards Palakkad.


Church at Chalakudy

The route from Thrissur to Pallakad was painful with several diversions due to road construction. While it was still daylight, I decided to call it a day at Pallakad and found a basic hotel off the highway.

At the hotel had tea and bhaji. Later went off to sleep.

In the evening as darkness fell, I headed out for dinner. near to my hotel there was a crowded Malabar restaurant which looked like a good option. Some juicy prawns and a tall glass of ice cream later I retired for the night with a satisfied stomach.


Banana wrapped prawns


Tall glass of ice cream

Bike Ride: 1097 Solo to Wild ‘n Wet Valparai – Triplog Day 1

Almost a year since I went on a multi-day bike ride. Had been itching to go on one for quite some time.

So as the monsoon tapers down in this part of the country, what place better than the Western Ghats to enjoy the greenery. A quick look at maps told me that Valparai was one area I hadn’t visited. So an impromptu plan was made for a three day trip.
Day 1: Bangalore to Valparai – 450Km
It was almost 0500 by the time I rode up the basement ramp and turned down the road. Being in no mood to take the monotonic national highway towards Salem, I turned towards my favorite route to Dhimbam Ghats. Kanakpura road out of Bangalore was a mess due to metro constructions and I repented not taking the Nice Road. Once past the AOL ashram, I settled down in the rhythm of a long ride. Bike munching on mile and me on varied thought. Haven’t had much time to think over the past month or so due to crazy work pressures.
At Kanakpura, Vasu’s Hotel was just opening. Despite the temptation I moved on as I had a long way to go.
Photo shoot stop off Kanakpura road
After Kanakpura, stopped for a few pictures on a byroad.
Also tied my backpack to the rear seat. I was traveling extremely light. Apart from what I was wearing, which included a camera slung on my shoulders, I only had rain gear and a pair of shorts plus a t-shirt in the bag.
Beyond Malavalli, turned left towards Shivasamudaram. I love this road. In late spring and summer this road is dotted with flowering Gulmohar trees.
bikeridevalparai_015Old temple near Malavalli
After crossing the Cauvery  bridge, I stopped for a break.The plan was to stop for tea. Ended up having a couple of thatte idlis also. In addition I bought a large packet of Gur Chikki. This ended up being a good choice as that was the only two things I ate till I reached Valparai.
bikeridevalparai_028Breakfast stop
Kollegal came and went. So did Chamarajanagar. Then the forests started and the first wildlife sighting. An elephant and calf crossed the road a little ahead of me. By the time I stopped and took the camera out, both had marched into the jungle. Managed to get a fleeing picture of one of the two.
bikeridevalparai_030Elephant disappearing into the jungle
The road after Chamarajanagar is beautiful and a pleasure to drive on. Even though it was the start of a long weekend, traffic was sparse. Soon I was at the top of the ghats and then descending the numerous hairpin bends towards the famous Bannari Temple.
bikeridevalparai_035Jungles of Punajur
bikeridevalparai_040Looking down from top of Dhimbam Ghats
bikeridevalparai_045Mobile Ice-cream shop outside Bannari Temple
From Satyamangalam to Annur to Pollachi the route was somewhat boring. Only thing of interest was appearance of windmills a little before Pollachi.
bikeridevalparai_048Windmills on the way
After Pollachi the fun started with the Aliyar dam and forests. From there all the way till Valparai, the roads are narrow but amazing with an ample dose of hairpin bends. Forests flank the road at lower altitudes. As the altitude increases, tea gardens appear to add to the beauty.
bikeridevalparai_050Tusker on the banks of the Aliyar Reservoir
  bikeridevalparai_076-082Aliyar Reservoir from far above. Notice the low water levels.
bikeridevalparai_099Nilgiri Tahr with best buddy
bikeridevalparai_102The jungle spread below
bikeridevalparai_117Tea gardens with a waterfall in the backdrop. This tea estate was called “Waterfalls Tea Estate”
bikeridevalparai_120Tea Gardens in the shadow of the mountains
bikeridevalparai_132Tea gardens surrounding a processing center
It was early evening when I reached Valparai. After searching around for a place to bunk, found a hotel on the main road. There I relaxed for a while and ordered tea and bhaji in the room. As evening gave way to night, I stepped outside to check out the town.
Small shops flank the main road and numerous by-lanes. In this off season, the ambiance much like my hometown of Nainital. It was fun walking around enjoying the hustle-bustle of the small town. I was looking for a small eatery which would serve basic local food, but found none. A couple to which I was pointed towards were closed.
As a slight drizzle started, I turned back to the hotel. Returning back, I found a restaurant, somewhat fancy by local standards, opposite my hotel.  Found a seat inside on a corner table. A corner table is generally good for observing the proceeding, especially if you are dining alone. I let the boy recommend dishes – mostly a selection of chicken and fish, and to give him credit they were quite good.
Returning back to the room, I realized it was only 2000. Interestingly this was the first time after leaving in the morning  that I was looking at the time.
Fiddled around with the phone to check out the route options. As I contemplated the choice of going down into Kerala and taking a circuitous route back to Bangalore or hanging around Valaparai for another day, sleep overcame me. Some point in the middle of the night I woke up to switch off the light and went back to sleep.