Archive for the ‘gifts’ Category

Only flowers

I’ve developed a rather late interest in flowers. And why not? With all the frivolous things that we spend on, a little bit of beauty is much appreciated. Why must a gift always be intelligent or useful? How about just alive? Nothing better than a flower then. Here’s an account of my most recent floral jaunt.

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Gift # 3: Bollywood: The Indian Film Industry

Over the past few days Metroblogging cities have been posting about unique gifts that their city has given to the world. This is in the spirit of the holiday season and gift-giving which ensues in most parts of the world. In the same vein, we start our series. The countdown will go in reverse till we reach Gift #1. Note that they are not in any priority of importance, rather just gifts that India’s greatest city has to offer. Earlier posts are here

Internationally, three Indian exports make the world tick. Indian brainpower, Indian food and Indian movies. And when it comes to Indian movies, nothing beats Bollywood, the world of Hindi movies in India.

Nothing compares to Bollywood, which got its name from the famous movie making industry from Southern California, but in many ways has surpassed it. At least in the number of films made, and soon hopefully in the quality of them too.

As Wikipedia informs

Bollywood and the other major cinematic hubs (Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada) constitute the broader Indian film industry, whose output is the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced and in number of tickets sold. Bollywood is a strong part of popular culture of not only India and Pakistan, but also of the rest of South Asia, the Middle East, parts of Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, and among the South Asian diaspora worldwide. Bollywood has its largest diasporic audiences in the UK, Canada, Australia and the U.S., all of which have large Indian immigrant populations. [link]

Bollywood has a vast and varied history and even scratching the top of it will be a herculean task.

If you havent seen a Hindi movie, the one that is the all time favorite according to me is

It is the quintessential Bollywood Masala movie, the like of which has never been seen again.

Bombay is also the home of some of the greatest of Indian movie stars. It is not uncommom to see hordes of people standing outside the bungalows of famous movie stars, just to get a small glimpse of them.

Here the Indian movie star is even more famous and powerful than the politician.

And the movie stars of Bombay havent disappointed.

Two of the all time greats Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bacchan call Bombay home.

Some of the first images, the teeming millions of India have of the city of Bombay, is from Hindi movie films that are shot in the city.

So next time you watch a Hindi movie, be rest assured that the city has something or the other to contribute to the success of the movie, if not everything.

Gift # 4: Cricket

Over the past few days Metroblogging cities have been posting about unique gifts that their city has given to the world. This is in the spirit of the holiday season and gift-giving which ensues in most parts of the world. In the same vein, we start our series. The countdown will go in reverse till we reach Gift #1. Note that they are not in any priority of importance, rather just gifts that India’s greatest city has to offer. Earlier posts are here

Before you jump and scream that this is a lie, read the entire post. Cricket was invented by the British. However today Indian cricket is the financial and organisational powerhouse like no other sport in the world. And the center of all this is in Bombay.

Eden Gardens may boast the biggest stadium but then also the most unruly and uncouth rowdy fans. Delhi and Madras, are wannabes when it comes to cricket. The real heart and soul of Indian cricket lies in Bombay and the talent and chutzpah that has made Indian cricket what it is is the gift from the maidans and the cricketers of Bombay.

Cricket came to India in the 18th Century.

In 1848, the Parsi community in Mumbai formed the Oriental Cricket Club, the first cricket club to be established by Indians. After slow beginnings, the Parsis were eventually invited by the Europeans to play a match in 1877.[7] By 1912, the Parsis, Hindus, and Muslims of Bombay played a quadrangular tournament with the Europeans every year [link]

At the Wankhede

Since then Bombay hasn’t looked back. It is one of the only three cities in the world to have had three different test match grounds. The Bombay Gymkhana Grounds, The Brabourne Stadium and the Wankhede Stadium.

Besides these, the Azad Maidan, Cross Maidan, Oval and countless other such smaller maidans and the Gymkhanas have nurtured some of the greatest Indian cricketers to don the Indian colors.

It is one of the few cities which has its own team for the national Ranji Trophy. And it has won the trophy about half the time in the last 60 years since the inception of the Ranji Trophy.

Cricketers from Bombay, bring the die hard, play in all conditions, no nonsense spirit that is the embodiment of Bombay. An example of how seriously we take our cricket is the fact that we have a special tournament, the Kanga League played only during the monsoon season on pitches which are deathbeds for batsmen and bowler alike.

While most of India forgets cricket during the monsoon season, it thrives in Bombay.

A famous international cricketer had said that Bombay is the only ground in the world where the crowd in the stadium is as educated as the commentators on radio and TV. Hence a good stroke by even the opposition batsmen is applauded for the joy of the sport and not dependant on the nationality of the player. That is the true hallmark of India’s premier cricketing city.

The city has arguably provided the best Indian players from any city or state in the country. From Polly Umrigar, to Wadekar, Solkar, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar et al to today and Tendulkar. Its been an amazing line of batsmen, bowlers, and fielders that have donned the Bombay Jersey and the India Cap.

There was a time in the 70’s and 80’s when 7 of 11 players in the team were from Bombay. In recent times, the pickings have been leaner, but a lot of that has to do with the regionalism that has set in to Indian cricket.

Watching a one day international match from the East Stand or North Stand at Wankhede is an experience one has to partake at least once in their lives. The crowd chanting “Galli Galli mein shor Hai, Pakistan Chor Hai” and “Ravi Shastri Hai Hai” even as Tendulkar is on fire in the middle is an experience one will never ever forget.

Gift # 5: Food: Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji and Bhel

Over the past few days Metroblogging cities have been posting about unique gifts that their city has given to the world. This is in the spirit of the holiday season and gift-giving which ensues in most parts of the world. In the same vein, we start our series. The countdown will go in reverse till we reach Gift #1. Note that they are not in any priority of importance, rather just gifts that India’s greatest city has to offer. Earlier posts are here

Food is a way of life in Bombay and defines the city to a very large extent. Bombay food specialities are renowned the world over and have become gastronomic icons in their own rights.

The three unique food items listed below will gauranteed bring pangs of hunger to your stomach and saliva gushing in your mouth. Your brain cells will play food havoc, and you will need to eat a Vada Pav, some Bhel and Pav Bhaji.

Vada Pav is the poor man’s food. In its most fundamental sense it is an potato burger. But the very simplicity of the dish makes it so legendary. It is sold at roadside stalls all over the city. The best vada pav is had at the street side and not in some fancy restaurant. Trying to select the best vada pav stall in Bombay will create tension amongst friends and family. For me the favorite one is outside Hindu Colony. The size of the vada is big and comes with soft pav and amazing chutney. The most over hyped vada pav is (was??) the one outside Mithibai College. And the best kept secret is the vada pav stall at the corner of your street !!

Here is a good vada pav recipe.

Vada Pav on Wikipedia

Pav Bhaji rivals the vada pav in a truly Bambaiya flavour like no other dish. Not found as commonly on the street side, it is still nevertheless a complete Bombay creation.

Veggies and potatoes are mashed together literally on a flat metal tava and mixed with tomato puree and spices. It is served with oodles of butter on it and bread that has been pan fried in butter. With lemon and onions it will make your taste buds do the lambada.!!

As Wikipedia informs

The origin of this dish is traced to the heyday of the textile mills in Mumbai. The mill workers used to have a short break for lunch. A full lunch which was not rushed probably needed more time than what was available. A light lunch was also preferred given that physical work followed immediately. A vendor understood this and came up with this dish using items or parts of them available on the menu. The role of Indian bread or rice was taken up by pav and the curries that usually go with Indian bread or rice were amalgamated into just one spicy concoction-the ‘bhaji’. Thus was born– the celebrated pav-bhaji!

Initally, it remained as the food of the mill-workers. The dish was then patronized extensively by the upcoming Mumbai underworld. This resulted in the dish finding its way into restaurants and spreading over Central Mumbai and other areas. The pav bhaji was made famous by the various roles played by Bollywood heroes as pav bhaji vendors, notable amongst them being the one played by Sanjay Dutt in the movie Vaastav.

Here is a recipe to make Pav Bhaji

The most famous pav bhaji is just opposite my house at SARDAR. Nothing beats the pav bhaji there and the long line of cars late into the night is a true attestation of its lip-smacking taste.

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Bhel Puri completes the trio of Bombay Eats.

Bhelpuri at its very basic is

Puffed rice and sev, a fried snack made from besan flour, form the base of the bhel. Bhel puri is made from finely cut tomatoes, onions and chillies added to the base. Other versions of the snack include potatoes in a spicy onion base. Chutneys may be added to give it a sweet or spicy flavour. Sev, a chickpea based topping is sprinkled and garnished with coriander leaves and lime. It is then served with toasted puris, (a deep fried wheat bread). The result is a sour/pungent/sweet tasting evening snack.

Bhel puri is usually made with two different “chutneys” (Hindi for sauce) – one spicy chutney made of green chilli and the other sweet chutney made of dates or tamarind. Diced red onion, diced tomatoes, thin sev, cilantro leaves and peanuts are the other ingredients of the standard bhelpuri. Some add pomegranate seeds or diced raw mango for better taste. [link]

Bhel has become famous all over India and in many parts of the world for its simplicity in making it. It needs no cooking per se. And the ingredients are generally available everywhere.

All over the country it is called Bombay Bhel for obvious reasons. Bollywood has done its fair share to promote its image.

Some of the best bhel is available on the beaches of Bombay, namely Chowpatty and Juhu.

Its also famous at eateries like Swati Snack House and Badshah Cold Drink House.

Bhel outside Bombay never tastes the same. Taste is in the air and the water.

Gift # 6: Bombay Stock Exchange

Over the past few days Metroblogging cities have been posting about unique gifts that their city has given to the world. This is in the spirit of the holiday season and gift-giving which ensues in most parts of the world. In the same vein, we start our series. The countdown will go in reverse till we reach Gift #1. Note that they are not in any priority of importance, rather just gifts that India’s greatest city has to offer. Earlier posts are here

Haven’t u heard the phrase “Money Makes the World Go Around”.

Well this couldn’t be truer than it is in India just now. The economy is exploding and a burgeoning middle class in India is thriving and lapping up all the goodies that it can buy.

Bombay has always been the Financial and Commercial Capital of India. Delhi may be the political one, and Bangalore can be the Silicon Alley of India, but the real money power lies in Bombay.

And that’s because of our Stock Exchange. Like the NYSE, which so defines NYC to be what it is, so does BSE.

It all started in the 1850’s when

An informal group of 22 stockbrokers began trading under a banyan tree opposite the Town Hall of Bombay from the mid-1850s, each investing a (then) princely amount of Rupee 1. This banyan tree still stands in the Horniman Circle Park, Mumbai. The informal group of stockbrokers organized themselves as the The Native Share and Stockbrokers Association which, in 1875, was formally organized as the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). [link]

Image Link: Wikipedia

The BSE was for the first 100 years a loose conglomerate of family run brokers. However

In 1956 Government of India recognized the Bombay Stock Exchange as the first stock exchange in the country under the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act.

The BSE moved into its current premises – the Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers – in 1980. The Bombay Stock Exchange followed the familiar outcry system for stock trading up until 1995, when it was replaced by an electronic (eTrading) system named BOLT, or the BSE OnLine Trading system. In 2005, the status of the exchange changed from an Association of Persons (AoP) to a full fledged corporation under the BSE (Corporatization and Demutualization) Scheme, 2005 (and its name was changed to The Bombay Stock Exchange Limited).

The Sensex is the official de facto temperature thermometer of India. Its ups and downs shows the real happenings in India, be it politics, trade, commerce or entertainment.

The Bombay Stock Exchange has had its share of pitfalls. It took Harshad Mehta and his devious ways to usher in a new era of transparency and upgradation of services to make it a world class trading exchange.

The BSE has also spawned the NSE, the National Stock Exchange, which like the NASDAQ is predominantly technology-heavy.

So tomorrow if you see India Shining, or better experience India Shining, you know where the epicenter of all that lies. Its at the Bombay Stock Exchange

Gift # 7: Indian Railways

Over the past few days Metroblogging cities have been posting about unique gifts that their city has given to the world. This is in the spirit of the holiday season and gift-giving which ensues in most parts of the world. In the same vein, we start our series. The countdown will go in reverse till we reach Gift #1. Note that they are not in any priority of importance, rather just gifts that India’s greatest city has to offer. Earlier posts are here

If you have been to India, you have experienced Indian Railways. The largest rail network system in the world, moving the most number of passengers, it is uniquely and truly India.

One cannot experience India without ever having travelled by Indian Railways. In Bombay, it is all the more so, because we have one of the busiest and biggest suburban rail network in terms of passenger load.

So where did all this start?

Way back in 1854, the tracks were laid from Bombay to a distant suburb called Thane. The first passenger train pulled out of Bori Bunder on April 16, 1854 and chugged a distance of 34 km to Thane. Thus was born the era of passenger rail in India. [link]

The birthplace of passenger rail evolved into India’s grandest railway terminus and arguably one of the most amazing railway structures in the world. Called the Victoria Terminus, or V.T. it has become the icon of Indian Railway and also of the city of Bombay itself.

Image credits: Rahul Megharaj Email: rahul.meg@gmail.com

So the next time you travel by rail in India, remember where it all started. A gift from Mumbai to India and the world.

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