Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tales of India : The last chapter, A day in Delhi

My dearest friends

How lovely it has been to read your comments on my other posts on my India trip!

Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comments

I close with one of my favorite days in India.

This is one of our last days in Delhi

Delhi is a fascinating city about five thousand years old

( do just the words not give you a shiver?)

It has been the capital of many empires and dynasties  ( at lease 11 as per record )

I have spend a lot of my life here

First, as a little child when my dad was a major in the army.

Then at 17 while getting my Undergrad in Economics and living away from home for the first time

And then finally at 23 as a newly minted working woman and at 24 as a newly wed.

I left Delhi at 26 but we go back every couple of  years

The previous evening- to the day I describe here -  I return to Delhi from Kolkata .

The return to Delhi has been a strenous trip -

I had a 102 temperature in Kolkata and dare not tell my mum and dad as they worry about me.

While R does not do the running away that some parents have to deal with, he does R wander around to whatever interests him .

 He also tends to not eat anything - Both of these make traveling with him alone very stressful

We reach Delhi.

When DH picks me from the airport  - he tells me there is a party in our apartment

My heart sinks when I hear this - as I have been looking forward to watching TV and  going to bed .

Plus our apartment is only used for 2-3 days each month so there is no help - we have to do all our work ourselves

 Of course when we get to the apartment - my MIL has already cleaned up and prepared a massive meal

Our guests show up around 9 and I forget my fatigue for a while so lovely it is to catch up with these people that I have not seen in years

By the time the party ends its 1.30 am ( this is normal in Delhi ) and I am wiped out

My MIL shoos me when I say that I want to help with the dishes and I fall into a deep sleep.

When I wake up, I am almost about to wimp out for I am still worn out

But DH insists I come

R whines and tugs at my heart strings but his grans tempt him by making a swing of him.

A few minutes after we leave the apartment, my MIL calls me to tell me that he has forgotten his sorrow ( indeed I can hear his squeals of joy in the background )

Much reassured, we board the Delhi Metro ( I have seriously never seen a more spic and span subway )

Picture from previous trip but I wanted you to see how shiny and dazzling it is

Delhiites don't mind you staring at them.

DH and I take full advantage of this.

We speculate on the lives of the people around us

I also eavesdrop ( in the west, people use unkind words like snooping.  But in the east, a natural curiosity in other is seen as very natural. This is NOT a complete boon though as you need to get used to all sorts of personal questions being asked.)

There is a hefty girl next to us who is chatting on her mobile phone about her recent movie experience.

She was so disappointed by the latest Shahrukh khan movie that she simply walked out.

 I think she is trying to show her friend how refined her tastes are.

Ahead of us a man is bargaining on his mobile phone for a contract for apparel - he is tense and sweating and I think he is nervous that he wont get it.

There is a couple with their son - the lady looks so grumpy but her face transforms when she looks at her son.

But she and her husband are so loving to their little boy - he is constantly hugged and kissed ( a thing I love about the east is how demonstrative dads can be to their children . My own father would play with us with our dolls and be an honored guest to our tea parties for hours on end )

 Apart from meeting my family I think the highlight of my trip is a visit to Chandni Chowk ( translating to moonlit square )

If you have any sense of atmosphere this market will give you the goosebumps

I hunt for pretty scarves and saris

This lane is called Kinari Bazaar-  "Lane of Borders"( for the women of India would wear plain saris the border of which were elaborate with silver and gold thread and they sewed these on )

Some of these shops are a hundred years old .

I am ensconced in thrilling thoughts the ancient women who have been in these very streets before me - all looking for something to make themselves look lovely

The streets are so narrow - for when these shops and market was built, the only way to travel was by horse or little carts or your feet

This market, I often tell DH is the most romantic place on earth
 ( the other romantic places to me are Bhopal - so serene and of course Paris.- to me its just amazing that a place like Paris lives upto its reputation. How cosmopolitan I sound !
The Paris trip was pure good fortune-  DH and I were once lucky enough to be stranded in Paris by shenanigans of the airlines and had a lovely time there  )

Every time DH holds my hand in Chandni Chowk  ( for practical reasons like crossing the roads - for PDA in Old India is considered uncouth) my heart skips a beat

The thing about Delhii even Old Delhi - is that  not that time forgot it.

While some of Delhi has abandoned its past - most of it straddles the past and the current effortlessly

Infact, all the shopkeepers sitting in their 100 year old stores with foods made from the same recipes they were made all those years ago - have mobile phones and will often be talking with exporters and such .

My Sari shopkeeper- sitting in a several generation shop -  is talking to someone about his daughter who is traveling to London tonight and that the person on the phone ( who has "contacts" at the airlines) should please make sure that the folks at British Airways dont create trouble over her bags ( India runs on contacts !- You always need to have a guy or know someone who knows a guy). In this way he straddles the century effortlessly

While all the old markets of Delhi are fascinating -

you will come across things like a professional ear cleaner ( really !!)

And Shops with their menus written with incredible spellings

or a restaurant that only serves one meal ( comprising about 18 side dishes )

But Chandni Chowk is its own thing

DH eats a little desert which is famous here called Daulat ki chaat - two of the ingredients of this ancient recipe are dewdrops and the full moon

Truly its taste is  like poetry.

All the shops are specialty shops

I buy silver and pretty little things and  trinkets for my friends back in the South

By the time we return - its lunch time - we grab a quick lunch and then DH and I are off on our separate ways

I go to meet my friend who in now a famous designer and makes the most exquisite clothes you can imagine

I have come armed with all the gadgets and R's specific foods ( for his refusal to eat anything outside has been a huge stress to me )

Her label is much sought after now but she is the same loving and warm friend as always

She talks about the difficulties in making large amounts of clothes for what is essentially handmade stuff ( you can see the contradiction there )

 We catch up on everything that has been going on with our lives and eat lots of things

The Gramps pick me up  from my friend and we battle traffic to have dinner at the famous Delhi Gymkhana  Club 

Another 100 year club - they are renowned for their chicken tikka and their kebabs and pomegranate juice and for old money and influential bureaucrats

We feast on a fantastic meal and drive back home

DH has come in a separate car and so we part ways and he will spend the night in his friends' apartment

I am sad to see him go even though I know I will see him the next day .

But I console myself with knowing that he will be able to connect with his friends better without thinking of R's bedtime and such

And the day is done

I write this post sitting in the dining room of our cabin.

Surrounded by nothing but trees  and the lights of the cabin on the nearby hill.

Its past midnight but DH is still tinkering away at a house project in the bath upstairs and the occasional sounds of him dropping a nail or something are the only sounds around me

Its so quiet here

But while describing this day to you through this pictures I feel like I am back in that other place of bright colors, loud sounds  and crowds and ancient things

Such is the beauty of journaling.

I will add a few more pictures tomorrow .

Good night ! I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it 


Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed reading all of these stories from India, and since I have a picky eating son with autism....I really would like to read more about what R ate while in India. I have often imagined if I could take my son to a place far away from America, maybe he would find new things to eat. My husband is from Tunisia but we have never been together as a family.

Þorgerður said...

Nice....:) I badly want to visit India...

Bright Side of Life said...

K, you are such a romantic, I love your posts. I laughed at the picture of R being swung by his grandparents, how lucky he is to have them in his life. Have a great week. :)

Floortime Lite Mama said...

Dear Anonymous - R actually rarely opens up to try new things - this time he tried a kind of cake and Indian Cheetos - this was really a very stressing part of the trip - R also drinks water with a splash of Sprite in it - Indian Sprite is made with Sugar and not HFCF so he did not drink for three days. I was sick with worry
Porgerour - it really is so exciting
@ Di thanks so much - the grans are really lovely

Barbara said...

I personally enjoyed this post, too, very much! (But will bow to you enjoying writing it more - as in reliving a wonderful if part worrisome experience.)

On the professional side - LOVE the swinging photo, too! Impressed that your in-laws are capable and willing.

Unknown said...

"It taste like poetry." Beautifully written. I will add India to my bucket list of places to visit!

danette said...

I have so enjoyed reading all of the posts of your trip! Love the pictures and descriptions of the experience. It made me smile to read how R was so loved and accepted, not only by family but by others in the community :). Your hometown sounds similar to my husband's in some ways... a small town in West Texas where everyone knows everyone. I also loved reading about your SIL's school, it sounds great.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, he wouldn't drink for 3 days because he could tell the differnece in the Sprite in his water? I assume after 3 days he drank something? My son drinks only water, but sometimes when he is sick I get liquid in him through "shaved ice" Picky eaters are really tough

Floortime Lite Mama said...

@ Dr. Barb - thank you so much ! my inlaws are really dynamic
@Lauren - I really do think India is an awesome place to visit - such amazing history
@ Danette - that little town sounds wonderful - isnt it amazing that even in this crowded age such places exist
@ Anon - yes we finally found a solution - a kind of club soda instead of water with a little sprite - it was a HARROWING experience though as you can imagine. Sleeping and eating troubles honestly cause so much stress - that I almost think that they top my list !

Yuji said...

K, I've so enjoyed reading about your trip. Thank you for another interesting post!

robin said...

It's awesome that I can read about these fascinating tales from someplace so far away! I love that that you are my eyes into that faraway world and can bring it to life because of what we have in common! Thank you for sharing!

Floortime Lite Mama said...

yuji , Robin
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and for your lovely words

Anonymous said...

I love all of it. :) It was so interesting and enjoyable. You took me where I could almost see and hear all the colors and noise to your quiet cabin (which I'm sure I'd also love) and it felt like such a letdown... If that makes sense. I mean that in the best possible way- only good writing could make me "feel" and picture all that! :)

Floortime Lite Mama said...

What a lovely thing to say Julie .. I know exactly what u mean

Kris said...

I loved this post and felt I drank in a little of India reading it. I love reading about places I have never been. Great picture of R swinging with grandparents. And I loved the part about "eavesdropping". In the summer I love to sit on a bench at the boardwalk and "people watch" - imagine what their lives are like, watch them interact with their children, etc.
The eating thing can be so worrisome. Hope R is eating again!

Stories Untold said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading both the posts on Delhi and Purulia. It makes me want to write about my own experience of Patna which I intended to but have not found the time yet.

Delhi especially since its my own city and I loved the way you were able to peep into the co passengers' minds aboard the metro. While in England I often did the same, while waiting for the tube, I would look around and observe people trying to guage their theory of mind:-)

About sleep disorders and picky eating, had similar experiences in Patna, but what is praise worthy is how despite the challenges you took it in your stride. I am beginning to be pretty chilled out myself totally accepting these as part of our life but enduring them and to be seen as not a very eager to feed mother sometimes gets on my nerves.

Thoroughly enjoyed the Chandi chowk bit especially about this dessert, makes me want to go and eat it, pls let me know where.

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