Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kensington Market, Toronto

One of the sojourns while here in Toronto was to the Kensington Market.
It is surely one of the most vibrant and diverse places in Toronto. It can be called the 'khau gali' of Toronto but offering much more than just food.
On entering, the Market looks deceptively small. You'd be dismayed by the few options and hoping that there are more inside. And were there more?!
Kensington Market is bounded by Nassau Street, Spadina Avenue, College Street and Dundas Street on its four sides. It abounds with restaurants, eateries and patios offering cuisines of many countries....Moroccan, Tex-Mex, Middle Eastern, Italian, Latin American, Chinese, Indian... and even three vegetarian restaurants! There are many beer & wine shops spread across the Market.
On a leisurely trip, we sauntered along, planning to first assess the market and then decide on what to have. Soon we realized that viewing and remembering the selection was not as easy as we thought. So, we started with a soup in one of the vegetarian eateries. Continuing on our journey, we next had a cheese garlic bread. Priced at $ 3.50, it was a foot long .Warm from the oven, it exuded a heavenly baked taste.

Cheese garlic bread, Kensington Market
After  a 45 minute walk, we went to an Asian eatery where we ordered a salad. The salad, though exorbitantly priced at $11, was a splendid example of how fresh, tasty and crunchy a salad can be. Apart from the many vegetables, it also came with sesame seeds, and the crunch of Ramen noodles.

Asian Salad, Kensington Market

Further on our journey, we discovered an alley that encouraged graffiti. Among the many graffiti on the streets was this one that took our breath away.

Graffiti, Kensington Market

In front of the spectacular wall was this car in which grass and plants were allowed to grow. From what I discovered later, the graffiti on the car is changed every once in a while.

Graffiti, Kensington Market

The meandering walk took us to the adjoining China Town. We entered the street and saw the many Chinese eateries and clothes. Not really in the mood to explore further, we turned back to the Market and walked into a bakery to have churros priced at $1.25. After another 30-minute walk, we entered our last eatery for the day, a gelato shop which offered two scoops for $5. The variety of gelatos and yogurts were amazing.
We walked eagerly into a restaurant named, 'Vegetarian Restaurant' and discovered to our great amusement that their 'vegetarian' concept included the sea food as well! Well, new things to be learned from new places.
For the wine and meat lovers, the  Kensington Market offers mind-blowing options.The market also abounds with the freshest vegetables and fruits that range from the most common to the most unconventional choices.
There were other shops that dealt with clothes, spices, natural products, incenses, tattoos etc.
Towards evening, we viewed a small band of three singing and playing on their instrument, catering to the requests of the audience.

Music, Kensington Market
On Sunday evenings, we were told, that the street remains closed to vehicles and entertaining acts are performed.
Two things I'd suggest: Go with an empty stomach and a full pocket. The place is not inexpensive.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

100 days of Bangalore: and coming home

For someone who never really had an opportunity to stay away from home...EVER, to look for a place away from home and staying there for a prolonged period is a big deal. I was excited about going and staying in a new place and have no regrets about the decision. But the 100-day stay made me long for home like never before.

It was the 24th June and the last day of my project. I spent a sleepless night, so overwhelmed was I with the thought of returning home.My countdown had begun 15 days before.I felt swamped about the incessant rain, the huge volume of luggage, the traffic, the auto fare, the coolie. I didn't want anything to jeopardize my return home.
But then as though destined to, everything went smooth. I got an autowallah who charged as per meter despite the showers and the resultant traffic jam. The coolie I got loaded my luggage into the train at a very reasonable rate, and without haggling. My mood was all set wonderfully for a return home.
A big smile broke across my face when I got down from the train and saw the station name in Telugu. My phone told me that we could finally do away with roaming charges
Stepping into my home and looking at all familiar sights felt awesome!
The first big advantage was that when I opened my suitcases I could take things out or leave them as they are. My home, my wish!
In Bangalore every morning as I left my room, I had to gather all my belongings and lock them up in the cupboard .You just cant afford to leave your laptops, chargers, blankets...anything around as the room key was handed to the cleaning person.I would need to take them all out once I was back  And I had just one plug point to charge the two laptops and the mobile would need to take turns getting the services!
Food is the next big advantage.
1. No more climbing up and down the stairs to access the kitchen.
2. Leaving the vessels in the kitchen sink till I am in the mood of washing.
3. Having all that I need to cook my meals with, in their proper dabbas neatly arranged in the kitchen shelves....including the lighter. Yes, I had to go out to buy a match-box when I realized that a kitchen does not necessarily come with its lighter!
4. The luxury of eating what I wanted to: the flexibility to throw together a few things for a simple meal or make time and space for cooking up an elaborate one.
5. To chuck the leftovers into the fridge without the fear of it getting eaten by someone else.
6. I can cook meals between watching TV and/or working on my laptop.

When I open the taps in the bathroom, the luxury of having hot water gushing through the taps unlike the thin trickle of hot water from an instant geyser whose temperature drops just after filling one bucket!
The luxury of traveling in your own vehicle. When I wanted to have food from nearby restaurants, I would have to walk if time permitted or forced to take an auto during my short lunch breaks. My scooty does wonders for me in attending to the necessary chores in the neighborhood.

The blessing of having a washing machine! I can just dump all my clothes into it and get the task done! I have the lines for drying clothes inside the balconies of my home. When I leave for work, I have no fear of them getting wet. I can bring them in whenever I am free to. There were many instances there when I would put the clothes out to dry and they would be thoroughly drenched by the time I came back.
Though there wasn't really much time, and I dont watch TV much, but I missed the familiarity of having the channels which my home TV had. I missed the comfort of options, whether availed or no..
I like eating out and I realize that it happens because I rarely do so.But when  you eat out three times a day, the heart cries for simple home-cooked food..Hence, if I had any friends/relatives inviting me home, I would accept unabashedly.
Though the accommodation itself was not uncomfortable, yet home is a home. there is an ease of accessibility to all that you need. You set up your home according to your needs and don't have to depend on others. Coming back, I realized that there are so many things that we take for granted and we know their true value only when denied those facilities.