Now it was solidly mid-afternoon, and it was definitely time for lunch. We headed into a small local eatery where Anne took over the reigns and ordered an assortment of Indian snack foods. The so-called “channa chat” dish included chick peas and potatoes on a base of yoghurt and herbs. Another dish featured long stringy dry noodles made from lentil flour intermixed with popped rice. We also received a “bhel poori” salad, a cooling dish made with cucumbers. Now I finally got to taste my mango-flavoured lassi which was absolutely delicious and a great counterpoint to our spicy food.
Our tasty Indian lunch
Anne added that in Southall you can taste a wide variety of cuisines from different parts of India. Popular main dishes include curries, lamb kebabs, chicken tikka masala and butter chicken. At a cost of only 13 British Pounds, our assortment of Indian snack foods satiated our hunger, exposed us to a variety of Indian delicacies and was very easy on the pocket book. People often say that London is very expensive territory for travelers, but we found great shopping and culinary opportunities in Southall that were extremely affordable.
Beautifully embroidered bags
Our last stop on our South Asian excursion was a stop at a local supermarket where Anne showed us a wide variety of exotic fruits and vegetables. From guavas, chilies, mangoes, eggplants, melons and tomatoes to less well known varieties with names such as loquat, mulli and anar, this place was bustling with locals doing their shopping. This supermarket is also a great source for teas and spices.
Excotic foods at the local supermarket
Across the street is the Himalaya Palace Movie Theatre, a much-loved local Art-Deco era landmark built in 1929. The unique Chinese pagoda-style design of this building makes it a definite landmark in the area. The Himalaya Palace screens popular Hollywood features as well as the latest Bollywood movies.
The Himalaya Palace Movie Theatre
Our exotic South Asian excursion in Southall had come to an end, and we boarded another double-decker bus for our return trip. Anne and I sat upstairs at the very front, and she provided a running commentary for me, explaining the different areas of London that we were driving through. Exploring London with a local expert, particularly one as colourful and cosmopolitan as Anne Mark, was a definite enhancement to our trip.
View from the doubledecker bus
Our last evening continued along similar lines, with the intention of sampling another one of the ethnic eateries that London has to offer. Since we had to get up very early the next day for our departure, we decided to eat locally close to our bed and breakfast in the Holland Park area. We found a quaint little Thai restaurant called the Cool Monkey where we enjoyed generous portions of flavourful South East Asian food. Exhausted from a long day of adventures and from packing our suitcases, we just fell into bed and tried to rest up for the long journey home.
Three friendly faces at the Cool Monkey restaurant
Over the past three days we had caught a glimpse of so many areas of London, and I had got a good impression of this city’s phenomenal diversity. From the downtown banking district to Buckingham Palace to a boat ride on the River Thames to early morning kayaking and explorations of different ethnic areas, London has been a great experience, and I can’t wait to get back and explore even more facets of this one-of-a-kind metropolis