Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Kumta 2: Main Street

The Vegetable market sits on one end of Main Street Kumta. Always a treat to walk the remaining few blocks and watch people. The stores are tiny and carry whatever you would need. Nothing fancy here, just life's essentials. Several temples are on this street, and thus flower sellers everywhere.

Notice the reddish tinged road. That comes from the red Laterite rock this entire Konkan region sits atop. In the konkan, everything is made from laterite: buildings, fence walls, bus-stop shelters, stores and even gutters draining road sides. Crushed laterite gravel is used on the shoulders of all roads. Even the dust has a reddish tinge, and so does the normally black asphalt road. After a few days in the konkan, my sense of white clothes now account for a trace of red in it :-)

Let's take a stroll down Main Street!
The Venkateshwara Devasthan is in the center of town. I love exploring the inside of this very old, beautiful temple. Piles of sand and gravel outside point to imminent construction - pray nothing gaudy!

Nearby is the Shanteri-Kamakshi Temple. A thread-ceremony was going on inside and these girls, dressed in new clothes, were welcoming guests. Women received flower strands for their hair, men (and women) got sprinkled with perfumed water. Note the girl in red reaching for the small chrome sprinkler.

After walking in the hot sun, my cousin and I decided to gate-crash this ceremony for some cool lemonade and mithai. We smiled at the girls, got doused in perfumed water and smiled our way to the back of the temple where the lemonade was still being mixed. There as we waited, the assistant picked up a block of ice sitting on the bare floor and tossed it in the giant pot (aaarrrghhhh!) !! I had no intention of getting an upset stomach at the start of my holidays. Mithai too was nowhere to be seen :-( We walked out dejected. O yes, I did bow my head at the shrine.

Right outside the temple I tried taking a pic of the squatting flower-seller, and this women walked right into my field. Her expression suggests she was carrying a huge burden on her already drooping shoulders.

Parched throats made us dash to the corner shop with the red and white awning (Nayak's Cold drinks?). Note the women selling an assortment of flowers, vegetables or fruits. Generally whatever grows on their plot.

On the back table as we waited to order Nimbu-soda, a local person still sitting there was sipping, what looked like a glass of cold-coffee. Raagi Neeru (Nanchane water) he noted. I remembered my grandmother making Raagi Neeru for us kids playing in the hot summer sun. Then we find, the owner's wife makes it at home. So it was a no-brainer - Delicious too! They also served Teela Udak (white sesame water). Had to try that as well. After a few glasses of each, we were well prepared to brave the midday sun. Note empty glasses on table! :-)

Apparently a very simple recipe for these cool-drinks. Roasted Nanchane (aka Raagi) are ground with some coconut gratings, gur and water. Thats it! Ayurveda experts would swear at how it would 'cool' the body from the inside! Amen!

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