A Band of Brothers

Narrow Alleys & Timeless Food

Downtown Manama is a labyrinth of narrow alleys, these dated structures house people on the higher floors and have a variety of shops below. Last Friday some of our Internations photo walkers gathered to give this area a try. Ater parking at the Awal theater, one of the oldest cinema’s in Bahrain we started our journey into these dim streets. The theme for the walk was comic billboards and signs and shapes in the sky.

After a good hour on the street we visited an iconic Indian Udupi restaurant for snacks. For many westerners, the flavors and colors of the pure vegetarian food a revelation. It was dark and the Indian Club opposite was playing host to Onam celebrations with great fanfare. Lots of lighting, balloons and a band to welcome the chief guest the Indian Ambassador to Bahrain. Deciding not to gate crash into the function, we continued our walk making our last stop at Tariq Pastries for some freshly made Baklava. The kilo of sweets we ordered vanished while we enjoyed the brief respite in their air-conditioned premises before heading out into the humid night.

Searching the Light on Bahrain National Day

A few days preceding the National Day,  the roads around Riffa, the highway and the airport are lit up in red and white lights.  We  have all seen pictures of revelers and families heading in throngs to Riffa Palace each year on National Day. It is a treat to watch, but be prepared for bumper to bumper traffic and delays.

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Almost There

Boot Polish in Darjeeling – 50 Cents for Tip Top and Shiny Shoes

As promised we will now head east ward to the hills of Darjeeling, the queen of the hill stations in India. Today’s pictorial is about shoe shine folk who aggregate on an inclined shopping street near  Chowk Bazaar, in central Darjeeling.

A lot of traveler’s are wary of shoe shine folk in general. Their notoriety attributed to the organised scams at some of the popular tourist cities such as  Istanbul, Delhi and Rome. I would be too, but there is any easy trick to identifying these rogues, the ones in the scam generally approach you and are mobile. The ones I conversed on this busy street come to the same spot daily, and even have their regular clientage among the locals.

Their dark features, stands out among the lighter skinned locals from hills. They are from the plains, many having moved here years earlier looking for their daily bread at the famous tourist hub. Like any professional they take pride in their work, they carefully insert pads on the sides before they start their polish, not to stain the customer’s socks. In the end the shoes get a quick medical check, the sole a few complementary nails for support and a sharp trim to flaky leather from the sides. Cost of this half an hour road side shoe spa, a mere 30 rupees, or 50 cents.

Litter from last nights beach party at Siam Hut

A Not So Lonely Weekend at Lonely Beach

A five hour drive from Bangkok lies Koh Chang or Elephant isle. Yes you can fly to Trat airport and take a bus which will save you a couple of hours. But for the unplanned, the mini bus ride works out well. There are plenty of stops along the way where you can get food, drink and stretch your legs.

I was looking for a place far away from the madness and the usual commercialism that is rampant in most of the other Thai Islands. The destination was Lonely Beach, on the south west of the island. Let me take you for a little tour around this stretch of land. You will find most of the commentary within the pictures.

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