Party Time and the All-Onion Masala Dosa

I’ve talked about morning and noon – chai and thali. Can you tell I’m all about food?Well, it’s not completely true. The rhythm that we’ve gotten into this week also includes a rest, perhaps a nap, in the heat of the day. Our room is nice and cool, with a fan to create the breeze and shaded windows to let in fresh air. Usually, I write or edit photos or organize our old photo archives; James sleeps.

After the rest time, getting on towards dark, we walk.

This place is happening after dark!

This is an exciting time in general because the whole place is gearing up for Onam. The short version of the story is that the gods and demons fought for control of Kerala and the demons won. The mother of the gods was totally upset and talked Krishna (?) into interceding, which he did through a trick. He came disguised and humbly asked the demon king for three strides worth of land. The king agreed. With two strides, he crossed the entire land, then asked the king where he might put the third footstep. The demon king fatalistically suggested his head, and Krishna shoved the king deep underground with the last step.

People were pretty bummed out (I guess demons make good kings) and Krishna felt bad, so he agreed to let the demon king come back one day a year. The people of Kerala spend 10 days preparing for this – and the preparations I’ve seen look suspiciously like partying to me – before they have a more-or-less private celebration in their homes where they eat like mad and celebrate the free day of a demon.

It’s a nifty reason for a 10-day party, eh?

So on these walks of ours, there’s music, light, and people. There is a temple right beside the train station that was hopping – decorated with flowers, loud music, and lines of people waiting to get in to bow and kneel and such.

We stop into random eateries. (Yep, back to food.) On the 3rd, we ordered a masala dosa (big ol’ flat pancake wrapped around a spiced potato mixture). Except that the potato mixture was almost all onion. No go! We ate the dosa and tossed the rest. At 18 rupees, we didn’t cry too hard. The fish and chips we paid 100 for was more of a drag, if more edible, because we’d ordered paneer pakora to go along with it (another 40 rupees) and they brought us, yes, onion pakora! Argh! Haunted by onions!

Today, we went into another random place and it didn’t seem promising. They had no menu and offered us “chicken fry.” After someone’s kid helped, we were more or less on the same veggie page. Unhopeful, we waited. What came was great – sambar, a channa masala, rice, chapattis, and a plate of chutneys and pickles. Yum! We would’ve been full even before they brought refills on the channa masala and pickles. When we washed our hands and got ready to leave, we got the punchline – 35 rupees. Wow. We could have stayed and eaten all night, and they’re charging us 35 rupees. I would’ve paid anything up to a couple hundred (though I would’ve felt like a target at the upper end).

And they’re nice people, too!

So food and partying. It’s a good nightlife.


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