Yesterday evening I went pickle shopping in Banaras with our erstwhile and very resourceful guide who took me to a lane called kachori gali. And there was this Willy Wonka’ s version of a pickle shop with all kinds of sweet and savoury preparations in huge glass jars -some were yesteryear friends like mango, chilies, lemons, ginger and then there were others I had never imagined could be made into pickles like bamboo, olives, black pepper and others I can’t figure out the English name for .
I opened the glass caps and delighted in poking, prodding, sniffing and tasting a few before finally making my selections. Besides pickles, there was quite an assortment of sun dried savoury stuff like pappadams (papad), badiyan, etc too which are generally fried or roasted to prepare to eat.
Tired out after the shopping bout (more from the effort to dodge people while walking in the narrow lane) and in severe need of caffeine, my guide suggested a popular foreigner haunt – brown bread bakery. It turned out to be a charming and rustic rooftop place but with very average food.
Plus point after labouring up five flights of stairs was the sense of openness and privacy which is so devoid in the congested streets of Varanasi where everyone and their uncle seem to be out to trample on your toes.
“A word to the wise ‘Keep your elbows handy while walking the narrow lanes of Benares.”