25 August, 2007

Rice, anyone?

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel through Andhra Pradesh, starting from Chittor in south all the way up to Rajahmundry in the north, by train. Train journeys in India are slow, dirty, noisy, crowded, slow and--quite frankly--a pain in the neck. The only positive aspect is that one gets to see a lot of India, especially the countryside with all its farmland. After the south-west monsoon has shed a large part of its load by mid August, Andhra's landscape gets very monotonous. The countryside is green and farmers make use of these rains to plant paddy. So mile after mile, all you see from your train window is paddy, paddy, paddy, more paddy, (oh! look, a palm tree!), paddy, paddy, paddy, paddy, (wow, a neem tree), paddy, paddy, I mean, who eats so much rice? It could be forgiven if the terrain was undulating, a few ups and downs here and there, a different kind of crop in-between to break the monotony, but no, it's as flat as an anorexic supermodel's back with hundreds and thousands of miles of paddy. Frankly, I think it's time we ate less rice.

When in Rajahmundry don't forget to stop by the Iswarya Residency hotel just opposite the railway station. The ground floor has a restaurant called Sriram with some of the most amazing South Indian food (probably in the world) with the most amazing of all being the coconut chutney and the soft ghee dosas (five hungry stomachs unleashed after four hours of travel and the total damages came to Rs. 165!). And do finish with the filter coffee.

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