Durban, South Africa — Wednesday, October 10th

To Durban

I'm going to visit my old hometown, Durban, for a couple of weeks. I fly on the new Mango(!) Airlines — on a bright, orange-colored Boeing 737.

Mango Airlines is the cheapest of the three low-cost airlines now operating in South Africa: the flight from Johannesburg to Durban only costs R191.00 (U$28.00). For this price, I expect the service to be lousy and the plane to be full, so I am pleasantly surprised to see how courteous and friendly the cabin crew is, and to have an empty seat next to me on the short flight. I'll certainly fly Mango Airlines again!

I also expect flight delays on budget airlines and to therefore not arrive on time, so I am again surprised when the plane arrives in Durban a full twenty minutes ahead of schedule. Ramanath Prabhu is coming to pick me up, but the plane arrives so early that when I call him on my mobile, he is still looking for parking.

We drive over to his house in the sprawling, mostly-Indian, northern suburb of Phoenix, where I will stay with him and his wife Indumukhi Devi Dasi, and sister Shyamali Devi Dasi. Many of the local devotees — Rishabdev Prabhu, Premananda Prabhu, Jivananda Prabhu — and their families come to see me in the evening. It's been more than four years since I was last here, so it's good to see everybody again.

Tags: Africa

Durban, South Africa — Sunday, October 14th

How to eat a bunny

You can't visit Durban without chowing down on a bunny chow — Durban's famous contribution to South African fast food — so my host, Ramanath Prabhu, makes one for me.

No, a bunny chow is not made with rabbits! It supposedly got its name from the unique food (chow) served by the Hindu merchants (Baniyas) in fast-food restaurants like Kapitan's Vegetarian Eating House on Grey Street. I remember being able to buy a quarter-loaf bunny at this popular cafe for a tickey (three pence or two-and-a-half cents) and a half a loaf for sixpence (five cents) in the early sixties. Today, a quarter-loaf bunny will set you back R7–10 (U$1–1.50).

A bunny is made by scooping out the inside of a quarter or a half a loaf of bread, filling the hollow with a curry (usually beans and potatoes), and squashing the chunk of bread that was removed back on top of the filling, to soak up the curry and act as a lid.

You don't use any utensils to eat a bunny — unless you want the locals to laugh at you! You dig in to a bunny with your fingers, beginning by using the cone-shaped "lid" to mop up the excess gravy and scoop up the beans and potatoes.

Work your way around the sides of the bunny, breaking off pieces of the loaf to use as a scoop, but be careful not to break off portions of the crust that are below the curry line, or you'll end up with a big mess!

Durban curries are notoriously hot! Compress the remaining dry crust of bread at the bottom of the bunny against your burning lips, and chew the rest slowly, to try to smother the fire in your mouth.

Tags: Other

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Layout by iMonk — October 14th, 2007.