Bhogal. That’s the source of my stress-buster: Vegetable Patties. I know Vegetable doesn’t grow at Modi’s pastry and that Mother Diary isn’t the correct source of milk but that’s what Bhogal makes it seem. It’s a source of just about everything the residents of Jangpura and other localities around Bhogal need. Starting from food which includes a variety of North Indian, South Indian, Nepali/ Tibetan/Chinese and Afgani cuisines to all the ingredients required to cook anything else it is home to hairdressers, tailors, bartanwallahs (utensil sellers), dry-cleaners, hardware stores, mobile stores, cloth stores, furniture stores you just name it. And if you ever feel too materialistic walking through lanes solely dedicated to one product, for instance, there is one lane here which only has tailor shops, the other lane specializes in hardware products there are temple(s), a mosque, a gurudwara, a budhha vihar and a church to visit.
The key to knowing Bhogal is to keep your eyes and ears open, in simple words ‘observe’. It takes time and one has to be ready to be frequently disturbed by honking scooters, speeding car and cycle rickshaws.You can’t expect one point and get it all at a go. A walk in the morning, day and evening will all reveal different things here. It is the same for a weekday and a weekend. Walking around the area is important to meet your personal market needs too. A few strolls around the marketplace will help you find an ATM or a courier service provider so that you can locate it when you are in need. I just spotted a ‘new’ ATM here.
An evening walk in Bhogal will ultimately end by eating one oily cum spicy thing or the other like Paani-Puri, Samosas or Veg momos (for me) so it is best if I move into the Bhogal sustenance effect now. After trying out both the Samosas and Kachauri suffering from a bad stomach each time I did so I’ve learnt they look better than they taste. I am not longer a Samosa maniac here. Food wise, my niche is the veg-momos in Bhogal.
Momos might be the Rastriya Khaja ( National Snack) of Nepal apart from noodles but they have never gone down well with me. I often placed an order for momos (VEG) in Kathmandu but it was only due to my inability to take the risk of ordering new things than being a momo-lover. But Veg momo is not even considered ‘Momo’ by the non-veg momo-maniacs in Kathamandu and the only असली म:म for them is the भ्यार-भ्यारे Buff ( buffalo) म:म . Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped Bagmati Sweets in Tripureshor, opposite to the trolley-bus stand from serving ‘Paneer momos’ for years now. (It is a vegetarian eatery) . Still, apart from the food court in Heritage plaza I haven’t eaten any ‘great momo’ in Kathmandu. And Heritage Plaza veg-momos is not the भ्यार-भ्यारे Buff म:म substitute for a vegetarian at all. Tasty, vegetarian momos for a commoner is amiss in KTM.
Here it is not. To a vegetarian’s delight the veg-momos sold by street-vendors ( mostly Nepalis) in Bhogal are simply great. By great I mean the perfect mixture of the dough and the vegetables inside just so that you don’t taste the dough more than the vegetables and vice-versa. A momo which gives you the illusion of having eaten something healthy though it mayn’t be so! Pickle, though is best avoided. In an attempt to woo the Indian customers it is too spicy( gives me hiccups) and the much-loved grounded Badaam ( peanut) pickle in Kathmandu is replaced by tomato cum chilli combo. It is a disgrace to the yummy momos. (I am beginning to feel like a food critic here) That hasn’t deterred me from giving up my daily dose of half a plate (Rs 10) momo for dinner. My way of ensuring my Momo-loyalty is simple : avoid the ‘disgraceful’ pickle. The rest is heaven. Hot and yum.
Tuesday Flea Market
Bhogal is a happening place. Early mornings you find Paratha-Chhola ( Rs 10 per plate) sellers along Chola-Bhature and tea stalls which are replaced by Momo and juice sellers in the evenings. Apart from Mother Diary outlets, bakeries and stationery shops others only open at 11 in the morning. ( Too late for Kathmanduites isn’t it?) The market however remains open till 10 in the evening which means Bhogal comes to life in the evenings. And every Tuesday Bhogal turns into a flea market making it livelier than ever. Everything is laid out on the streets: clothes, food, shoes, bags, bed sheets, pillow covers, door-mats, utensils just about anything your house needs. Till date I have bought a Rs 50 bag and rubber bands of all colors (mostly dark shades) for my ponytail. And the flea market gives me one more reason to like this place.
Here are more pics of the Tuesday Flea Market in Bhogal.