Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Book to Read in Little India

Posted By Daisy

The Punjabi station master with a big twisty moustache points me in the direction of the market. It's a right turn at the station and walk down past the Snowhite launderette, the Sikh temple, Madhan's Shopping Mall, the Bridal Emporium that's now a doughnut shop, Sira's Cash and Carry, and Dokal and Sons.

Described in Time Out as 'a cross between a traditional market and a visit to India', Southall market is actually more like 'Eastenders', with stalls selling phone chargers, nail varnish and cheap shirts. We finish there within thirty minutes - and spend the rest of the afternoon eating our way through the streets of Southall, stopping only to consider a jewelled sari (could be glamorous over a pair of leggings?), silver bangles for chubby babies, firecrackers, Happy Diwali cards, cut-price DVD's and gold statues in the shop windows.

At the Magic Corn stand, the vendor smiles as he ladles fresh, loose cob corn into a polystyrene cup, adds a dab of butter, lemon juice and sprinkle of salt and gives the whole thing a vigorous shake. After that we have sweet pink Kashmiri tea with spicy bits floating in it from a street-side urn, and then to Royal Sweets for a box of pink cakes that, when bitten, crumble like a just-dry sandcastle.
On the walk back to the station, we are welcomed into the Sikh Gurdwara (temple). Heads covered, we are given a gift of nuts in a bag and drink water from our cupped hands, and sit in a huge room with people in prayer. The temple members invite us to stay for a vegetarian curry next door, but we have to catch a train.

As the sun sets in Southall station, the train arrives- women wearing bulky coats over their saris disembark, and I head east again, with a box of sweet cakes banging against my shins, and a camera full of photographs.


Elevator Pitch: Following the death of her mother, a woman in her mid-twenties jacks in her job and marriage and sets off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone.

It’s a cross between ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (without the schmaltz) and ‘The Way’ (2010 film about the Camino de Santiago).

It’s hard to know how Strayed (a name she chose for herself after her divorce) kept me reading about a long walk - for 311 pages - in tiny type. She keeps it interesting by deftly interspersing the description of the walk with the backstory of her life.

The film of the (Oprah-endorsed) book stars Reese Witherspoon  opens in cinemas in January 2015.
(*All amazing photographs by Paul Andrews (1-4), and by Christine (5 & 6) from

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