Monday, September 13, 2010

Mussoorie masala

"Set on a horse-shoe shaped ridge, nearly 7000 feet up in the Himalayan foothills, Mussoorie is a place - I decided after only twenty minutes - where I would happily spend the rest of my life" - says Peter Hopkirk, one of my favorite writers, but he obviously didn't visit the hill station in the rainy season. When I first saw it in 1999 I could hardly agree more with him, though. To my relief Hotel Broadway, one of the best places a traveller could hope for in India, is still standing.

Moreover, I was lucky enough to stay in exactly the same room where I stayed in 1999. That's how it was then:

...and now.

Rain and fog, fog and rain. And a woodpecker for company. It was a wise decision to take the 75-300 IS tele with me.

I loved that hotel. Can't get more cozy than that.

Mussoorie is famous for its boarding schools. Certainly no place for rebellious kids.

I didn't take much photos in Mussoorie. This is a masala post - meaning, here I mix photos taken in the town and around (Dehra Dun, actually). Masala means a mixture of spices. Mixture of photos, then.
I met a swami, a holy man, whom I asked to pray for an ill friend.

And then there were these little sisters, heavily made up for a visit in a temple.

I had big plans for Mussoorie - there is a very nice old British cemetery (if one can call a cemetery "nice") I wanted to photograph on infrared film but weather didn't make this possible.

A lovely town, though. Or once it was.

But there is a great bookstore.

And people, who let me take their photograph in exchange for an almost full box of Gold Flake cigarettes.

Talking about spice and masala... the best way to survive India with a healthy stomach is to eat at roadside restaurants. And the safest and most reliable food is chowmein, an Oriental noodle dish, as delicious as easy to prepare.

  • 1/2 pound fresh egg noodles/spaghetti
  • 1 onion
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 1-2 eggs (hardboiled)
  • 4-5 cabbage leafs
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (rice vinegar if available)
  • 2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
Prepare the noodles (spaghetti, if no Chinese available) al dente. Boil and slice the eggs. Slice and fry the onion in a wok. Add the curry powder (Madras, if available) to the onions. Fry for a minute. Add the noodles. Stir and fry on low flame until noodles become golden brown. Slice the cabbage into tiny pieces and add to the noodles. Stir them thoroughly. Add ginger, vinegar and soy sauce. Put in a CD of Luciano Pavarotti. After a song, add the bamboo shots and the sliced eggs. Stir on. At the end, add a little sugar and stir up well. Ready. Serve with hot Thai/Chinese sauces and/or soya sauce.
You can add sliced tomatoes when ready, or minced meat or chicken (at the point when the onion comes in and fry), there are more ways to prepare chowmein than there are dhabas in India. The recipe here is a "common denominator" of all the dhabas where I had chowmein. I survived and so will you if you try.


jacques philippe said...

Lovely portraits Balazs, as always. But I really dig the shot you did which is under the caption "A lovely town...". Everything is essential here. And you have that 'vodafone' board on the very right which is a nice time marker.

Pataki Balázs said...

Thanks jacques - I owe you a mail anyway since I received your book yesterday. Two thumbs up!

jacques philippe said...

So you ordered it... Well, I appreciate very much. And since that first release has many flaws I will send you the next version I am working on, you'll have it for free!

Completely off topic I've just stumbled upon this:
Remember that ?

Pataki Balázs said...

I remember that very well :) It was suspicious enough, with all the empty bowels, the clarity and the x-ray dose that could kill an elephant but the idea and realisation are brilliant. Cool media-hack I'd say!
I ddn't find any flaws in your book yet (soft-cover version), it's true though that the pages are cropped a little tight below but the printing quality is, as far as I can judge, perfectly good. I heard that Blurb & Co don't really excel in BW editions but your book seems to prove it otherwise. It actually gave me the idea to do something similar with my Indian images...

Puja Joshi said...

Thank you for staying in Hotel Broadway and writing such kind words. Hotel Broadway is owned by my grand-father, Chaman Lal Malik, who settled in Mussoorie after India-Pakistan partition in 1947. My grand mother and uncle run the place now.

I am visiting my home yet again on 5-6 April 2016 with family and friends.

Helps me rejuvenate and stay connected to my roots. Mussoorie indeed is pristine beauty for mind body and soul. I am truly blesses to have spent my childhood in Mussoorie!

Puja Mahajan

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