South Asian Discoveries in Southall
Our culinary excursion into South Asia continued when Anne introduced us to one of her favourite drinks: a “salty lassi”. With a twinkle in her eye she clarified that we were not talking about a dog here, but that we were about to taste a refreshing salty drink made from yoghurt. Our friendly salesperson proceeded to blend yoghurt and salt in a mixer. Ice can be added to the mix if there is a preference for a really cold drink. Anne explained that a lassi is a great drink to accompany spicy Indian food since it provides a soothing counterbalance to the powerful spices used in South Asian cuisine. Another popular version of this drink is the mango-flavoured lassi which I was planning to explore a little later.
Beautiful scarves at great prices
Back on the road we checked one colourful store after another and admired the delicate jewellery, the colourful scarves and the large assortment of South Asian music CDs and Bollywood movies. The more we kept walking the more our cultural explorations of Southall turned into a giddy girls’ shopping spree. I picked up some gorgeous pashmina scarves and custom jewellery, all at extremely reasonable prices.
Fashion jewellery galore
Attracted by the smell of freshly steamed corn, we stopped a street vendor for Magic Corn. Said, the young and very friendly street vendor, mentioned that steamed corn is a popular street food here. Customers can add a variety of flavours such as Mexican chili, curry, cheese, barbecue flavour, or black pepper to their corn while butter is optional. We enjoyed the friendly conversations with the locals who appeared to have a great time talking with the tourists.
Said tells us about the benefits of corn
Our next stop was at an upscale clothing store called Sequinze. Sima, the store-owner’s niece, took us on a tour of the store and demonstrated the ready-to-wear collections. The store carries four different lines, including made-to-measure bridalwear. It features a large variety of traditional, contemporary and modern designs that looked absolutely gorgeous on their displays.
Sequinze features high-end fashion
Sima explained that bridal wear takes about 14 weeks to make, and evening wear is also made to measure. The fine materials include raw silk and chiffon, and colours range from bright jewel tones to muted palettes. Sima indicated that most of the garments are designed locally by her manager, and the most delicate ones feature Swarovski crystals.
Andrea tries on an Indian dress
Back downstairs I had a chance to talk with the owner, who originally hails from India but has been living in Southall since 1969 after arriving in England two years earlier. Gernal took me through the store and showed me an extensive assortment of fabrics that are available for custom-designed garments.
Gernal, the owner of Sequinze
Brilliantly coloured fabrics from Japan, Korea, India and Pakistan were on display throughout the main floor, and Gernal explained that he travels to these far-away destinations several times a year to select the newest fashion in fabrics. When he asked me where I was from, I responded that I have been living in Toronto for many years. Gernal’s eyes brightened up, and he said that he has a brother who lives in a suburb of Toronto and is involved in the fashion industry as well. What a small world we live in…
Brilliantly coloured fabrics at Sequinze