Celebrating Riccardo’s Birthday with Tandoori, Jackfruit And Drag Queens

“What?”

Yesterday marked a very auspicious occasion – Riccardo’s 35th birthday! We spent much of it relaxing at Bevan and Eliza’s place in Bangalore. Riccardo commissioned some shirts from Bevan’s favourite tailor; we went out for a lovely lunch (including a paneer tikka masala I’m still dreaming about); and Bevan expertly carved up the jackfruit he received for his birthday from his friend Rajeesh.

In the afternoon, Riccardo, Maureen and I took an auto trip to City Market – a densely crowded and amazingly photogenic public market that makes Jean-Talon Market look like the local dep. The sheer quantity and variety of produce and flowers on display was ridiculous. We noticed that every single item for sale was a necessity of daily life – no frivolous plastic trinkets or Hello Kitty iPhone cases to be found here! I was excited to encounter our first Indian drag queens, dressed to the nines in pink sequined sarees and extravagant makeup and jewellery – to my dismay, though, I realized they were hissing and making catty remarks about me. I shot them a proper glare and steered Riccardo away from them.

Piles of colourful dye for forehead-adorning

Cookware for giants, undoubtedly chained up to protect against giant shoplifters

Business as usual in the flower market

Bevan’s mum, Maureen, delighted with her orange!

A grueling but fun autorickshaw ride through Bangalore

In the evening, we had a joint birthday dinner for Riccardo and Bevan at a very nice Punjabi spot called Oye Amritsar. Riccardo declared it the best meal we’ve had in India so far: tandoori chicken, prawns, and cauliflower with butter naan, pappadums with chutney and pickle, peanut salad, mutton curry, butter chicken, and… brain fry. We joyfully rediscovered the lost pleasure of drinking beer with dinner. Bevan, having been in India almost 5 months, warned us how easily sick of Indian food one can become… luckily, that hasn’t been our case so far.

The last hours of Riccardo’s birthday were spent heading to the bus station for what was to be our worst bus ride yet (read about it here).

Watch out for the next update from the ancient city of Hampi!

Amusing sign outside the Punjabi restaurant

“Ciao, ma…” Riccardo phones his mum on his birthday, like a good boy

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