Sugar cane juice and other things

All pics clicked by me recently around where I live

Many of you have written asking me to post about life here. Well—here is an honest take.

It is nearly two months since we arrived here and I feel like the children in Narnia who discover a new world when they step inside a wardrobe and the back of the wardrobe opens out to a completely different land—the wardrobe in my case being a Jet airways flight that transported me from Mumbai to London.

Everything is so sanitised, pristine and orderly here. The people are so nice and polite and oh so quiet. Most of all, it is the silence that strikes you initially. Everything is so quiet. I feel like I am perpetually in a movie hall—except that I have stepped into the screen and somehow become a part of the grand saga unfolding before me. It feels so weird, to be actually living here as I have seen these scenes countless times in movies. It feels magical to look outside my window and see lovely English trees just beginning to bloom. And the flowers—oh my God—they take my breath away. Every corner you turn is a burst of colour—all kind of flowers, greenery, grass—all well cared for, all picture perfect.

The people here seem like characters out of an Agatha Christie or a Sherlock Holmes. Any moment now, Mr. Goon from five find outers will walk up and ask us to “Clear Orf” or maybe even Hugh Grant may pass by. The children? Blonde haired, blue eyed, it feels as if the dolls in the toy shops back in India, have come alive and are walking about! It doubtlessly feels like I have stepped into a book or a movie.

But, this morning sitting four thousand miles away from home (to me India is always home), the weather being a marvellous eight degrees and a bright sunny morning ( by English standards of course—eight degrees is marvellous weather I am told) sparkling in the back ground (or at least trying to sparkle—even the sun has no warmth here) I am filled with an intense longing for all things Indian.

The air here is so unpolluted that when I first arrived here I had difficulty to breathe such pure air, my lungs being conditioned by decades of living in various Indian cities like Mumbai , Bangalore and Chennai. We haven’t yet subscribed to cable (our television itself having arrived from India only two days back) and all I hear is English and English and more English. In India, no matter which region in the country you are, you hear at least three languages. I am dying to hear Hindi, Tamil and Indian accents.

In fact my pining is so bad that I have even put Himesh Reshmaiya into my i-pod (don’t be horrified—try living here!) something that I never did when in India, and also Chamkila. I don’t mind listening to anything as long as it is Indian !(yeah I am so desperate that I will even listen to Rabindra Sangeeth or Udiya or Bhojpuri or Mallu songs)

And a little while ago I was filled with an intense desire to drink sugar cane juice. When in India, the children and I used to go and have it from the vendors on the roadside who were in every nook and corner. I very badly want it now. It’s the little things like this that I mostly miss. When I mention this to one of my closest friends who is based at Gurgaon, he says that it would probably be available in a tin here. But is not the same I tell him. I want the noise in the streets. I want the flies hovering around the machine. I want the loud voices. I want those glasses that they pretend to give a quick wash in suspicious looking water stored in a bucket. I want the sugar cane juice with pieces of ice broken from a huge slab covered with a wet sack. I want to hear the jingle jingle of the machine as it turns round and round.

“Aah” he says. “Sugar cane juice is my favourite too. And now that you mention it, I too feel a craving for it.”

So I say “You can at least get it—you are in India. But I can’t even get it here.”

He smiles and pauses. I wait for him to empathise with me and fully understand my craving and helplessness.

Then he says “ I am gonna run off in the middle of office to somewhere close by and then have it and let you know how good it tasted and felt.”

The devil! (Does anybody know where I can hire a gunda type aadmi to beat up the guy? Preferably someone who can be hired online. Anonymously ,of course—'Gundas anonymous 'or something like that—quick, fast, reliable service. To make the matter easier I have even linked his Orkut profile for ready reference.) For a moment visions of him being tied up by four strong hulks and beaten up placate me –but only for a moment, as the vision is very quickly replaced by a Giant glass of sugar cane juice mocking me tantalisingly. Then I think of something more practical—the French fair that I had attended a few days back.

I send him this picture which I clicked with the caption “They were delicious. Had bought them at a French fair here where they were selling the most divine, mouth watering and scrumptious things” and as a footnote add “ And oh—the French people who sold them were very very sexy too.

But still it is not the same as having sugar cane juice in India. Damn!!


Addendum: This friend of mine is looking for a Flatmate. If interested (or you know anyone who is) please contact him thru his orkut profile.


  1. Very nice post and I can completely relate to it too!

    I was brought up abroad - then came to India for grad n post-grad and when I returned, things were just not the same. So I came back to India (now home). Funny thing is, when we are in India, we crave some peace from the hideous traffic noises - but when we leave to another, quieter country we find that it was those noises that made us realise we were not alone.

    Another friend of mine is in the UK at the moment as well and all she does is crib about the place and wish she was back in Chennai - eating egg-cheese sandwiches from a roadside stall near Egmore Museum. Even when she tries making it at home she claims it is the pile of garbage, the flies, and the dirty newspapers on which they serve the sandwiches that "set the mood" :O)

    What can I say? She is in my dream location. Any one who has ever read Enid Blyton will have the UK as a dream location! So to me, you guys are the luckiest ever! Love the French goodies by the way. Have fun in England!

  2. Awesome post! very well written , as usual!

    Just two months n u r desperate for anything Indian!!!!!!!!

    hmmm.. here I am, desperate to visit(only visit, not stay!) soem foriegn land! :)

  3. missin Sugar cane juice ..aww:D

    well now m missing those cookies nd sexy french gals :D

    nd again u did it..presented these small moments,cravings which we such a beautiful way that it makes me wanna stop time nd njoy the moment...relish it!

    Beautiful place indeed :)

    btw "14s" from last post were years of togetherness :)

  4. Aaaaah Preethi....such a beautiful post.....can almost smell the British air from ur description.

    Sugar cane juice.....u bring back painful memories. U say u've been in B'lore....then do u remember the sugarcane juice stall in Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand. Famous that tiny shop was...almost everyday after college we'd rush there to savour our quota of ambrosia b4 rushing away to catch the 302 home:-)).
    LOL at the "quick wash in suspicious looking water"
    ...well, we really dont want to question too much, do we;-P.

    So, so identify with this post...but then I guess every Indian living abroad will feel an affinity with U based on just this post:-))

  5. Hi Preeti,

    Really very nice post. Loved the way you'v expressed your feelings ..

    It really brought back all the memories of my brief stay in London and how much I missed all Indian things there ..

    Just amazing ..

    Thanks for sharing :)

    - Rina

  6. The love for the authentic sugarcane juice...hmmmm, I wholesomely agree that it should be had from the heavy glasses, dunked in water and the ioled, greesy wheels turning the long strips of cane around....yeah!!! and nwo with temperatures rising pretty high...those are high on the list.
    But you have those awesome flowers and such lovely scenes to hold you by...

  7. Well Preeti, given your location it should be no surprise that you get to see so much of nature. Though to a great extent most corners of UK would offer a fair glimpse of the green. As for hindi n all goes, living in a student accommodation sure has its advantages. secondly, if am not mistaken, the indian community in ur town is pretty quiet. n it is for this very reason, i don't leave london. get every damn thing in this city,
    in case u miss the noice, get around to southall or east ham. ganna juice never fancied except the one opposite kakade mall. he was too good!! :D
    but yeah, loads of things i miss of india here. in fact, dats what i was about to write. it struck home real bad during baisakhi!
    a simple thing like wearing a kurta is not a pleasant option here!!

  8. btw, u can travel to leicester or manchester for a weekend for a flavour of the indian diaspora

  9. Lovely post! Replace sugarcane juice with roadside chaat and I could have pretty much said the same thing. Nice trip down memory lane. Thank you!

  10. I have never had sugar cane juice - I guess I would have to try it sometime. But one thing that only tastes good in India is the mangoes. I mean we get mangoes here from Mexico, but they are not the same. Last time when I went to India in summer, I had mangoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner - they are the best :)

  11. Preeti,

    Enjoyed 5 posts now. Poem made me feel the emotion behind it. Music has to be as per mood and could be jhatka mataka too. Saw Made for Each Other photograph. May God be kind to you both always. Did you not sell an insurance policy to that gentleman for future shocks? Sugar cane juice, did you finally get it? No goondas please, just let me know and I will make him drink so much of sugarcane juice that he will come begging to you. LOL.

    Looking for your views on my few posts.

    Take care

  12. ha ha wait for sometime till you come back and you will miss all those beauty and the pure air. So live in the present and enjoy the moment.. Sugarcane juice can wait :)

  13. A recent post by the Met'Office has said that here in the UK, you can expect a drier and warmer summer than usual this there's something to look forward to whilst we're all stuck indoors suffering from Swine Flu!

  14. PS...Sumit is correct in his post...and my home town Derby also has that wonderful multi ethnic vibe going on'll love it!

  15. belated happy marriage anniversary.


  16. wonderful post Preeti!! I have also some friends who share the same thought as you. Though you get all the comforts in foreign land yet your heart craves for those indigenous sugar cane juices, paranthas,sandwiches,dosas etc etc...Anyway I guess visiting exotic locales of UK will be a better way to keep the nostalgia at bay...

  17. Damn! The nostalgia! :D

    Hell, I feel like having sugar juice now! Damn! Where do I go? :(

  18. Home will always be home, no matter where you go. I'm sure I'd love England and India but then I'd be homesick for New Jersey. Just get busy doing something with your kids -- they'll take your mind off of it!

  19. Preeti,
    amazing post, could feel the emotion coming out of it.
    I have just lived in India till I was about two years old but I swear to you all my cravings for India have to do with all those little things...all the vendors, pani puri on the street, people making pottery on the side of the road...or selling it...those are the things I miss about India even though I guess I never really lived there...but kya karien...ghar ghar hota hai na.
    Am going to be going back this summer after three years, the longest I have ever been away from it, am scared and excited at the same time...its been so long...
    this post came at a perfect time :).
    Thank you for sharing.

  20. The only suggestion is to Make US and UK a part of India, so we can have the best of all the worlds :D

    Places in other countries are so much greener, cleaner and organized than India. The difference is evident as soon as you land! But the place where you've grown up is the one that always remains home.

    You all are just SO lucky to be where you are! I've only seen those Cherry Blossoms in pictures :)

    I am sure whenever you come back to India, you'd miss the UK and all things British :)

  21. ohhh preeti...i feel the sameeee way too!! Have been in US for the past 2 years on an assignment, and dying to go back!! Glad the days are nearing for relocation!! Your post made me too crave for the yummy roadside sugarcane juice!! Nothing to match that taste na!!!

  22. Living away from “home”…has its pros n cons…Many times its not an easy decision to pick one over the other.. One gains some n loses some when they choose to live in a different country/City/house..

    Now after u’ve mentioned the sugar cane juice..i crave for the pani puri n bhel puri that u get on the road sides..n also the maanga(mango) cut in the shape of a flower u get on t-nagar roads with salt n spice on them…OMG! My mouth is watering! 
    This post makes me want to listen to “Country Roads..take me home” n get all nostalgic!

  23. You seem to be living in paradise (looking at the pictures).

    Yeah the cookies do look mouth watering, I hope you had revenge taken on your friend :)

  24. And what was his reaction for the foot note ;) belated anniversary preeti. hey n what about ur friend Niall. met him?

  25. Superu (Tamil accented) :D
    No place on earth - however pleasant and beautiful it may be, shall never overrun the sense of home/India... :)

    Here is a link to a Tamil song that might give u some company of the Lost world ;)

    Convey my Hi-Fi's to the kids

  26. Oh i am craving sugar cane juice :(
    caught up in same situation as u.....miles away from our beloved home without that delicious sugarcane juice and many more such treasures of life.

    I have kind of got used to this in 4 yrs that i have been away from home...yet something strikes every now and then.

    Hoping for a nice sunny summer this time here in NL too. WIshing u the same :)

  27. Di,
    Try a chinese market nearby..
    If there s any place you can find something close to 'des ki khushbu' in a foriegn land..its the "apne gali ka asian[chinese,viatnamese etc etc] market"
    I discovered this place 7 kms to my house n guess what all I found in the 1 st trip
    : malabar spincach[ vali in konkani]; fresh tender bamboo shoots[kirlu];bread fruit[jeevkadgi];banana flower[bondi], fresh snake beans[alasande] and not to forget our very own freshly made sugarcane juice with ginger and lemon n a bit of ice floating..
    they ve got the same mechine;they do all this barehanded[unlike the plastic gloved hands in all food handling areas]; no fuss..
    all mess.. :P
    but taste s YUMMMMMMY.....*SLURP
    [ sorry, but tomorrow being saturday is our "sugarcane juice" day!!]

  28. Don'; you get sugarcane there? Maybe you can make your own juice. It won't be the same as the streetside ganne ka juice, but nonetheless i will be ganne ka juice :)

    Btw, I'v heard that in London there is a place which is mini-India (the name escapes me right now). I'm guessing you might get it there.

  29. You wont believe it..i just went out to buy some Veggies for my mum to cook.. and saw a sugarcane juice shop and drank ;) and when i sign in to my gmail account i see an post by you about sugarcane!! Well Indians living abroad kind of miss lil things like this i knw it as one of my cousin is based in London and whenever we chat online she always tells me that she misses lots of things(esp "Pullikoddal" i don knw if there is any translation of this in Eng but you should be able to knw what it is). I badly want to go abroad and explore new places, meet new people and learn about thier culture but so far have not had any such luck :( maybe it ll come i hope.. have a gr8 time out there..

    One more question! I could not believe my eyes when my mail said you had commented on my 3rd blog..i had not updated it for ages and thought it better to delete...may be i wont now...thanks for commenting..hope i can get it running.. Actually am thinking of a new post! What If Preeti had not commented here!! ;) :) thanks again..means a lot ;)

  30. If only we could have the best of both worlds ... :)

  31. The photo of that tree is very beautiful.

    Enjoy life there, sure you'll miss some things of India.

    I wish I could get a chance to visit London too.

    Please drop by my site too.

    You are my inspiration to write real life incidents.

  32. haha..i so identify with this post coz its almost like going through the same phase of my first few months in Germany..and in my case I wanted some vada for my evening tea..;-P

  33. awesome!
    the precise description of the sugarcane juice experience in India... perfect!!
    i've read ur blog through and through..n plan to hit ur book soon!
    must say u've REALLY made ur life a feel-good factor ;)

  34. What a contrast it must be! It's a great contrast going from Portugal to Britain, let alone India. I know I'd miss a lot of things if I moved away. When I think about it I always think about soup, our soup. Nothing like it.

  35. its been close to two years since we came here and it still does not feel like home...

    and che! what friends you have...

    We have sugarcane juice here, fresh the way it is done in india minus the flies though..and with a slice of lemon in it..they give it in a plastic packet with a thread to hold it by and a straw in fav and i'm gonna have two today, one just for you ..*runs away before something's (ost likely those pointed heels) thrown at her

  36. Beautiful post. So truthfully written. Enjoyed reading it.

  37. for me its a crow....i want to see a crow...i want to see a murder of them perching on the trees at sunset...

    and trees...

  38. Preethy, as usual a wonderful post and I too can completely relate to it!!!

    So good to know that you guys r settling in and from the photos I think I feel that your kids do love it there. I guess the experience is definitely good for them.
    I too was brought up abroad for some time and then came to India for further studies. But ever since being back in India, it is definitely my home. And being here makes me miss the place a lot. But since it’s Kuwait and since there are lots of Indians, we do get loads and loads of Indian stuff. We have Indian supermarkets too and you know what, recently I saw frooti also there…heheh…
    But since we get Indian veg, Indian food and all those stuff cant say that I miss too many things, but we do crave some things at times. ooh I can understand about the sugarcane juice :) with the flies and with the dirty looking glass and all, we still do want it right!!! hey but we do get sugar cane cut neatly without the skin etc coming from India here :)
    When we are in India, we crave peace from the hideous traffic noises - but when we leave to another, country we find that we miss it all. Same like shades of gray said, our mutual friend is in the UK at the moment as well and all she does is crib about the place and wish she was back in Chennai/Kerala…
    What can I also say, same like shades of gray – she and you r indeed in our dream location. My brother too is in UK and he too just misses India too much… He travelled to many places in Europe and all and he says for him India is the still the best place and the most beautiful… I too was supposed to come to UK for my studies and kept postponing it. Was supposed to come last year, but I just got married and hubby was not too happy about being alone and all and I postponed it again. Now I am supposed to come that side in Sept, but don’t know if that will happen.
    Do enjoy your time there while you can and do go see all the beautiful places in the spare time that you get…

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Anonymous7:08 PM

    Ohhhh... I know the exact feelings. Even after 8 years I have not gotten over it. Now all I can think of is sugarcane juice after reading your post. Good to see you are settling down.

  41. LOL at Tys's comment....seriously not a single crow out here. Pigeons, pigeons & more pigeons all over the place;-S.

    This reminds me....the other day while I was talking to my mum on the phone I heard a crow "virinnu villikunnu" & was so excited.
    & my mum was like "Shoo, shoo poe kakae". She had just seen the last of a few guests the previous day.

    How I laughed;-D!!!!!!!

  42. Preeti, this post of yours reminds me of the description I had written when I had visited US for the first time.. the chilly weather, the white people .. and confusion that I had created when I had asked for a bill.. ( I wanted a receipt :) ) ..

    Good for us , that we have blogging now, to record these first impressions.. ( I have lost that description of mine ) . .

    Did you find that sugarcane juice finally ? :)

    PS : Preeti, that URL leads me to my own orkut profile... Thot That you were pulling a fast one on us, when I noticed that you have added an addendum..

  43. Coincidently after so many days I had Sugar cane juice last night. Singapore is still asia you would love here :)
    Have been to London few times and as you said its the silence that hits you first. The lack of sound makes you feel empty. I play loud music from laptop all kuthu / saami / love tamil songs to give it a home feel :P

    Go to east ham - the mahalakshmi temple.They offer very good meal to all devotees and you would feel like indian atmosphere.

  44. Lovely post. These are those little things that makes us feel at home and nothing like home sweet home.

  45. The first picture with white flowers is like a neighborhood in heaven above the clouds.. such lovely, the green n soothing scenic beauty is my ultimate weakness.. i see them and never fail to take a deep loong breath.. it gives me a big supply of oxygen and eyes feel fresher.

    the missing home is part of life.. can u have roses without few thorns here n there? i wonder how i would react to the honking traffic of India now. hv like hardly heard anyone blowing them here in last 3 months, though the high speed in dubai has its own noise :(

  46. oh preeti, i can so relate to you. when we came to the U.S. just after we got married, i went nuts for sugarcane juice. i made vinu drive around 100 miles, just to drink a glass of the juice. now i crave the roadside chaat of bangalore. the french pastries look yummy !! enjoy them while you are there !!!

  47. Loved the pics
    I am sure you can find Sugar cane juice canned in Tesco.


  48. Nikhil: Its not the same :)

    Ranjini: Heh heh--so sweet of vineet to drive u around. yep--enjoying the pastries etc.

    Mindsapce: yeah! But i have got used to the silence now.

    Anusha: Yes--home sweet home :)

    Srivtas: me not in london..But yeah will keep east ham in mind.

    Veena;Oh yes--i remember that post of yours. I want sugarcane juice only from roadside in india--not anywhere else :) And if u log into your orkut first or even into to your google account and then click on the link, it will take you to my friend's profile. I tried--it does work.

    Nancy: :D Tys too mentioned the crows--are u both in the same place?

    payi: :-) Yah--i can relate..yep settling down.

    Enigma;Thank you! I dont wish to be back in India (yet)--but sometimes a wave of nostalgia sweeps over! UK is indeed a beautiful place and yeah kids love it too.

    Tys: Nancy too talked abt crows.

    rm:Thank you!!

  49. Suma: now i have two candidates for Gundas annonymous! I wouldn't waste my precious shoes :P heh heh :)

    Devil Mood: now i do want your soup!

    Sucheta: thank U for those fab compliments!

    Mathew: Now i too want vada!!Missed ur call this weekend :P

    Aparna;Thank U! Already done!

  50. SS: If only!!

    Shantharam: Thats an amazing coincidence right? Blogosphere is full of those! Thought i'd comment back on those who visited me--hadn't seen the date on your post.Glad it helped!

    SMM: i want the one from pune--FC road :)

    Swathy: Wow!! Vali bhajji, keerlu, Bondi!! Anga the kai na!! Lucky u! :)

    Life begins: yeah! Hope u have a great summer..BY the way NL is which place? :P

    Red Phoenix: nice song :) will do!

    Sunny Raju: He laughed and said he is coming over :-) Yes--did meet Niall. Niall has blogged abt it in is blog with pics!

    Yogesh: yeah--they were delicious..No revenge--i forgive easily :)

  51. Pavi: me too! love all chaats!

    Durga: That makes two of us! :)

    Stillness speaks: u are so right--when i come back i am sure I'll miss this place.

    Only One: hope u have a good trip and all that noise and traffic doesn't get to u!

    Sue: not really homesick--but a craving for some things!

    Still thinking: oops!:)

    Sushobhan: oh yes--i do intend to!

    Jyoti: thank U!

    Sumit: Oh no--its not the same. i want to be in India!

    Niall: See my reply to sumit! I am sure there is a multicultural ethnicity--but still its different.

    Dhanya: ia m sure u're right! :) But i want sugar cane juice :) :)

    Jack: Done! And oh no--spare the guy--he's a nice guy :)

  52. Pink dogeood: my husband and kids love ripe magoes.I prefer the raw ones.

    Laksh: me too chaat paityham :)

    Prats: oh yes I do! They are gorgeuos! Will post pics on FB.

    Rina: happy to! Thanks!

    Prakhar: they are deliciuos :-) and i was just pulling ur leg abt 14 years.

    Hunter: hope u get a chance soon!

    Shades of grey: Oh yes--i can imagine your friend's craving! Yes--UK is indeed a dream destination and I am glad I got a chance. i do enjoy lots of things here!

  53. It was so opposite for me when we lived in Germany. I loved it there the moment I stepped off the plane. I felt like I had come home. Even though I had never been there before. I felt like I fit right in. I never missed the States for an instant and cried when we had to go back.
    Now I miss Germany as if I had grown up there. The markets, trees, flowers, noise, people, everything.

  54. Rayne: i do feel at home here..But sometimes, somethings I miss.Also the Asian cultures are vastly different from European or Amercian.Worlds apart.

  55. But there is one small problem..TIME.
    earlier i was a student and then i had time(was doing so time was always there for leisure things) but now as am in a job time for leisure is less..not that ma complaining i am loving my job..having gr8 fun..But am seriously trying to keep updating my blogs..after all whats a web designer without an web presence...

    And thanks again for dropping by..Have a wonderful time in UK..

  56. Preeti.. :) .. just a small correction.. :) .. I havent posted my experience of US :) .. back then , we did not have blogs :) .. so wonder where you have read it ... :)).. sorry, couldnt help adding that..

  57. Veena: sorry!--mistook u to be another blogger who had posted her US experience! :)

    Shantharam: my pleasure! And thank you

  58. ohhhh now ur post has gone and made me crave sugar cane juice!! and i live outside india too so i cant even walk down and get it!! :'(

    darn i can wait to get to india these summers and have roadside paani puri and ganne ka ras!

  59. Hey those are some great pictures. Though i hate the summer-time here in North India but have to say this place is cool.


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