Ride, eat, drink, and again … What’s not to like about cycle-touring?

On the road, food and drink is always something to look forward to, seemingly throughout the day. Whether it’s capati, prata, dosa, idli, briani or fruits and juices… it doesn’t matter, I’ll eat and drink when the fancy hits me. Did I mention that food and drink is cheap?


Question: When is a hotel not a hotel?
Answer: When it’s a restaurant, of course.

So, when is a hotel a hotel, you may ask? When it’s actually a hotel, of course.

Which begs the inevitable question; why don’t they just call a restaurant as such? Beats me. This is India, after all, a land of many contradictions. The establishment above (count the number of ‘hotel’ signs) is one such hotel that’s not a hotel but a restaurant. Food only, no bed.

The 2 photos below show the same. After a while, I wised up to this odd Indian nomenclature. The size of the establishment usually gives it away, as does the many signs that adorn it.







This one had no delusions of being either a hotel or a restaurant. The owner simply called a spade a spade.


It’s not called ‘fast food’ here for nothing; it usually means order-eat-and-go. I was very tempted to try the food but I stuck to my policy of not eating food that has been on display for god-knows how long. Just in case I’m in the middle of nowhere and I have to find a toilet…for the likely half-digested food to come out fast.



While I sipped a cup of chai at this stall, I spent a few minutes trying to figure out why the boss (who goes by the name of Bobby Sweets, I think) needed to tell customers that he had no plans to move his business anywhere soon.


Of all the roadside refreshments, this is easily my favourite. Bosambi. A local fruit that’s somewhat a cross between and orange and a mandarin. For a mere 20R, you get a tall glass of squeezed-on-the-spot, unadulterated thirst-quenching juice. At the hottest hours of the day, it’s quite impossible to ride past one of these stalls without stopping to enjoy one.




A simple juicer cranked by hand is all it takes.


It takes 5-6 fruits to make a glass of pure juice.


This one is a little bit more classy, but still quite cheap.



Fruit in brine is another favourite snack of Indians.



Each helping is usually about 10R. Cheap…



Sugarcane juice was my next favourite drink on the road.





This village grocery store owner employed an even simpler method of making fresh watermelon juice — just scrape up the flesh into a pot and mash it up, by hand.



I stopped to take a look and was invited in for a drink. Only 45R a bottle. I’ll pass…



Mini ‘puris’. You’ll never get full eating these. Just cosy up to the stall, and without a word, the boss will serve you these morsels, one at a time…until you say stop. The little puri puffs are first punctured; filled with a bit of vege stuff, and then dipped into a jar of soupy liquid to fill it before serving to the customer in a little disposable aluminium bowl. Great snack.



My guess is he sells a few hundred puri puffs a day


Another very popular snack is fritters, made from every imaginable kind of  fruit, tuber or spicy dough, deep-fried in what looked like used engine oil. I stayed away from this one as well.



Yes, they still call it that. Parlour. It has such a nice, heady ring to it. This was in Calicut.


And what it looks like inside the parlour. This long-exposure shot made it look brighter than what it actually was.


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