Tag Archives: Victoria

Day 3: Water, Water, Everywhere…

 

Water, Water, Everywhere... ; Photo credit: Shinjini Sur

When you think of a ferry, you imagine a small boat that can carry about 20-30 people from one place to another. But what about a ferry that resembles a cruise ship and has atleast 7 levels? That is large enough to hold a food court, a spa and swallows not one, but several buses and cars at once?

When I board a Pacific Coast Line bus from downtown Victoria, my imagination allows me to envision being dropped off at the docks to board a small boat- those miniature dinghy types that can be hired in Toronto for private parties- that would take me from one port to another.

What I didn’t- or, couldn’t- imagine was still sitting on the bus while it went into the underbelly of a humongous cruise ship.

Astonishment would be an understatement.

The ride to Vancouver is a revelation. With wind in my hair, while standing at the front of the ship on deck 6, I can almost pretend to be Kate Winslet in Titanic. Only my Jack is missing.

And then there is only water. Everywhere I look my eyes are met with deep blue- of the water and the sky. I imagine this is what Coleridge must have been thinking of when he composed The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I shudder at the desolation that that old mariner would have felt while being lost in the open ocean.

Eventually, however, I can make out the blue outlines of faraway mountains, coming closer with each second.

Vancouver is not far.

Photo credits and copyright: Sanchari Sur, unless otherwise stated.

First proper glimpse of Vancouver

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Day 2: The Last Supper… At Sooke

I prefer a Starfish to a Crab; Undersea Gardens, Victoria; Photo credit: Shinjini Sur

I am not a big fan of crabs. There is something lethal and unattractive about their pincers. And maybe it’s my imagination, but I see malevolence in their beady dark eyes. Moreover, my father tends to get crabby too, with his Cancerian personality.

Naturally, I had no idea what was in store for me today when I boarded the 61 Express bus to Sooke after lunch. It was time to visit an old family friend.

Her name is Ruma Roy, and she lives in a quaint little log house in Sooke, a small town about one and a half hour away from Victoria downtown. She and my mother have been friends since their air-hostess days at Indian Airlines.

When you usually see old friends after a long, long time (in this case, nearly 3 years had passed since her visit to Toronto), they absolutely insist on feeding you.

“I am cooking some crabs for you,” she announced.

I had been vaguely aware of her conversation with mom regarding the “menu” of this feast. Being ignorant of the ways of cooking crabs- since I clearly steer clear of them- I had assumed she would be cooking some dead, frozen crabs for dinner. But when her neighbour, Cindy, dropped off a case of large writhing crabs at her place, I went into mild shock.

“You are going to cook those?” I asked with incredulity interlaced with my question.

“Of course. Watch!”

With a sharashi (or, Indian tongs), she picked one up and dangled it in the air.

“You must cook them directly in hot water. If someone gave me a dead crab, I would throw it away. You can get E. Coli.”

And with that, she dumped it upside down in the already boiling water in the pot.

I cringed. For a second, I imagined being boiled alive.

“Don’t worry. They die within 30 seconds.”

Apparently, crab cooking has some easy steps to keep in mind.

  1. They must be alive and kicking.
  2. They must be dumped upside down in a pot of boiling water so that they die quickly, with as little fuss as possible.
  3. They must be boiled for atleast 6-7 minutes.
  4. They must be washed in cold water in order to maintain their tart brick-red colour.

Not that being a crab cooking pro makes it any easier for me to think of cooking them.

Apart from the delicious crabs (and trust me, they were; I ate guilt free), she had also made shrimps with quinoa seeds (substitute for wheat/rice), and baked salmon and halibut with vegetables.

 Heaven must be this way, I thought as I broke into a crab leg. With lots of good food.

Definitely, a supper to remember.

Photo credits and copyright: Sanchari Sur, unless otherwise stated.

Fresh live crabs; Photo credit: Shinjini Sur

This is HOW it's done!

Let me OUT!

Boiled Alive!

Washed in cold water

The Last Supper?

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Day 1: Taking it Easy in Victoria

 

With an old-fashioned name that reeks slightly of colonialism, Victoria throws you off with its small town European charm that beckons at you like the embrace of a former flame. The many horse-drawn carriages flanking the Inner Harbour bring back fond memories of Calcutta’s Esplanade. Yet, the old charm mingles effortlessly with the carnivalesque atmosphere around the harbour with street musicians and entertainers lining the walkway, creating a fusion of the old and the new.

After a slow lazy day at the harbour and a forgettable lunch at a nondescript cafe (with a rude waitress) on Government Street, I end up heading off to the hotel for an afternoon siesta.

How typically Indian of me, I think guiltily.

The evening brings about a visit to Chinatown. Touted as the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and a former opium den, it is a block of Chinese restaurants, speciality emporiums and derelict houses. I choose a restaurant that is bustling with customers and has a sign outside boasting of dim sum. I give in to my inner dim sum worshipper.  

This time the food doesn’t disappoint and I happily gorge on wonton soup and varieties of dim sum.

As I head back to the hotel, I yawn. It’s been a long day. My body clock running three hours behind my regular time is screaming for some more sleep.

Tomorrow, I think to myself. Tomorrow will bring forth some adventures.   

Photographs: Copyright Sanchari Sur

An alley in Chinatown

 

Wonton soup

Inner Harbour in the Dying Sun

 

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West Coast Tales: An Introduction

You shake your head in disbelief and stare at the ticket. Somehow that elusive holiday that you have been chasing all summer is finally within your grasps.

You look at your packed bags, mentally checking to see whether you have taken everything. Suddenly, you remember that you have forgotten your iPod and rush upstairs to get it. It will be a long flight and you don’t want to be stuck listening to crying babies.

As the cab pulls away from your house, you let out a little sigh, pinpricks of excitement finally flooding your senses. It had begun. You can’t believe this was finally happening!

You are at the airport. Your bags have been checked in. You have been through the security, and now it was just waiting for the call to board. You tap your foot in beat to “Suno Aisha”, feeling almost as confident and beautiful as Sonam Kapoor in Aisha.

You spy your fellow passengers around you through languorous eyes. The middle aged man in the red tee holding his wife’s hand. The little boy tugging at his sister’s hair, making her cry and his mother yell. The newlywed couple, with the shy wife too abashed to look at her husband directly. You smile, lost in your Aisha world.

Finally, you are on the plane. You have the aisle seat, just the way you like it. Your companion is a tiny old lady who you know will fall asleep as soon as the plane takes off. You are happy as you are not good at small talk, especially with strangers.

As the plane rushes down the runway, with the increasing roar in your ears, you are teetering on the edge of slumber. And, as Abhijit Pohankar comes on with his “Piya Bavari”, you have fallen off the edge, blissfully unaware of the baby that begins to cry.

The following blog posts titled, “West Coast Tales”, will trace my 8 day trip to Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle (in that order). This is my first attempt at travel writing. So, bear with me. Please.

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