Sunday, January 16, 2005

Munching in Mangalore

I arrived in Mangalore after a quick 5 hour train journey. I was sitting in the wrong compartment for the first hour until the ticket collector informed me, so I trotted off and I had a bed to lie on and snooze. I still haven't entirely worked out the different classes on the trains. I thought I would only get a seat but the train was coming from Delhi to Trivandrum in the south of India a long, long way.

I was staying at Manorama, a huge 7 floor concrete monster of a hotel. I was up on the fifth floor in line with the tops of the palm trees. I could almost lean out the window and pluck a coconut, well maybe if I had go-go gadget arms! Anyway the lift worked everytime I got it which was a bit of a suprise as Mangalore seems to be quite prone to power cuts.

I had read in the Lonely Planet about the "famed Mangolrean seafood" so I decided to head off to a posh hotel, Taj Manjarun, to sample said decilicacies. I opted for "Catch of the Day" and was presented with one bowl face up with fish soup and another face down with the rice along with a small side salad. I can't say I was overly impressed with the meal, decidely average. Still after eating the fish I realised I didn't actually know what type it was and so asked the waiter...
Colin: "What's this?" pointing at large fish bone.
Waiter: "Catch of the day, Sir!"
Colin: "No but what type of fish?"
Waiter: "Yes fish." looking perplexed
Colin: "But what type of fish?"
Waiter: "You want fresh??" looking more perplexed
Colin "No, no what TYPE of fish?"
Waiter: "Aaah, it is sharkfish"

After that the waiter brought a small dish of warm water with lemon in it and so I washed my hands, halfway through I had the worrying thought that it might be lemon tea! Still, I think, nobody noticed.
The next day I decided to try the restaurant beside my hotel, this was much more earthy and busier. I had some mushroom masala and some sort of raitia, a good mix, as the raitai cools down your palate nicely. Also had a couple of chappatis which after, watching other people, I awkwardly tore using only my right hand.
I've still to try some south Indian thali's which is a mixture of small dishes with rice. Rest assured when I do I shall pen an immediate report. hmmm, who would of thought that this blog would turn out to be so full of culinary insights.

I also vegged out in my hotel and watched some footy Liverpool-Man U. I even had a fruit & nut chocolate bar to enjoy. Although room temperature chocolate in India isn't so great, unless you like eating your chocolate through a straw.

The next day I had a mission to accomplish, get some more malaria tablets. I wandered around and found a chemist and he said come back in a few hours. Suprisingly easy! Well except from getting AWAY from the chemists!
He was curious about me travelling around India, and about my family. He gave me some food which tasted like chewy cornflakes, he called it prasad. Then the conversation turned to religion and he asked about my God, I explained that I have none and he just looked at me pityingly. He then asked me if I could get him a visa, and so I spent about about 5 minutes trying to explain how you have to apply to the goverment. After that he says "Aaah, I think your father can help." So get to it Dad, put in a quick word with Immigration please.

The next night I could hear music getting louder and louder I opened my door and the volume increased I popped my head out the hall window and there, in the dark, was all sort of people marching along the streets singing and dancing with a calvacade of cars and trucks intersperced by more people jamming up the streets. I headed down to the street to have a gander. I asked a nearby spectator if this was a festival, but he replied only temple and pointed in the direction they were heading. One thing I've noticed after being in Goa for a while there is a lot less English outside, spoken and written. A lot of signs are in Telu a curvy script or Hindi or Keralan or one of the other 15 languages! Not so handy when your trying to get a bus somewhere. I tried to take some pictures of the festival but it was quite dark and they didn't come out so good.

Next stop is Madikeri, in Coorg (The Scotland of India apparently!)

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