Monday, September 27, 2010

Bright lights

After numerous waiting list tickets and cancelled tickets, I finally made it to Delhi.  I was feeling a little burned after make the trip up sans a/c in August, so I opted for the opposite end of the spectrum and went first class all the way....uh, baby.  After finding my coach and very comfortable, upholstered seat, I soon realized that this was a level of luxury I did not need.  It wasn't that it was so fancy, it was just that it was more than I needed to spend for the level of comfort I require.  So, now I know: chair class a/c is the way to go.  More affordable, yet you still get your own seat.


Since temperatures were not nearing one hundred as they were on my last visit, I felt freer to explore the city.  To my delight, I quite liked Delhi.  While I may have stuck to ex-patty neighborhoods for the first day or two, I went into other uncharted territories on Saturday.  


Here I will tick off some of the highlights for you:


1. I went to two kebab places, and I can honestly say that the dingy restaurant located in the heart of a Muslim neighborhood was the superior of the two.  Now, now, I am not trying to be cool or hip by eschewing the hip, cool kebab place in the expat neighborhood.  This place was not exactly an underground find, having been featured in Time Out Delhi as part of their Eid* issue.  I'm still getting used to people wanting to take my picture (as my friend noted the other day on Skype: 'Now you know what Matthew McConaughey feels like!'  Well, not exactly, but you get my drift.), so when the phones started coming out, I just smiled amid greasy bites of kebab and the best chicken I think I will eat. Ever.  The goats sitting nearby did not seem to mind our grazing on their kin.


2. Indians tend to be most accommodating, as I have already discussed here. Which is good because Delhi is not the place to wander around without knowing where you're headed.  It is quite spread out and therefore, will take you a while to realize that you're not really headed anywhere.  After a visit to a doctor who was fixing me up with anti-malarial medication, I was offered a ride to the area where I was staying.  Instead, this ride turned out to be a ride to the nearest Metro stop. No bother, I could take the Metro and then catch an auto the rest of the way.  Instead of heading down the Metro stairs to the metal detector and x-ray machine, however, my nose and eyes and ears took me around the corner to the INA market.  This place was a feast for the senses.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.


3. On Saturday I found my way to a shopper's Eden in the form of stalls after stalls of discarded exports. I neglected to heed the advice of Lonely Planet and check for holes and tears (This is strange because being a seasoned Beacon's Closet and Good Will shopper, it is usually the first thing I do.), so some of my booty looks as if it has already been through an Indian washing machine.**  Regardless, I'm still fairly happy with my purchases, especially given the lack of mirrors.  I have therefore included a few pictures, so I could see myself, taken by salesman, for your amusement.  I swear, I was not at all angry that day; which makes the pictures all the more funny (at least to me). 


4. I managed to squeeze in two Italian meals (one more Mediterranean than Italian) while in Delhi.  While I can get Italian in Ludhiana, it is a bit lacking in something.  I take that back - actually, it is the opposite of lacking. It is some heavy stuff; all Punjabi style in their heavy-handedness with the cream. So Friday night was a great dinner at an uber-chic Italian restaurant in Delhi called Olive.  The garden was extremely charming with twinkling candles and a gracious and handsome banyon tree.  The French wine we had was crisp, chilled and just right, coming from the Loire Valley.  My gnocchi were pillowy little puffs ensconced in a light blue cheese sauce.  And on Sunday, I ended up at an eatery on Connaught Place.  When I was in Connaught Place in August, it looked like a war zone.  I was happy to see that the pressure of the Commonwealth Games had lit a fire under someone and it was now looking like a livable, walkable circle.  A Fresco was not on the same level of Olive, but it was delightful to taste good hummus for the first time in over a month. 


5. While determined to find my way on foot, I was of course stopped by an eager auto driver.  We struck a bargain, and I was soon off on a personalized tour of Delhi.  The highlight of my tour was a trip to the gudwara - a Sikh temple.  Anyone can enter a Sikh temple and they never ask for money. They also feed anyone who wants to eat.  See the pictures I've posted below of the major feeding operation they have going. 


6. Lastly, I just enjoyed being in a city. A city where few stared at me. A city where I was not dressed funny. A city where I could blend a bit more into the crowd.  And a city. There is something about large, urban environments that will always appeal to me.  The energy keeps me going. 


*Eid is the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan and the return to three squares. 
**Here the term washing machine is used loosely.  Those in India who can afford it get their clothes washed by hand; and by washed, I mean more liken beaten by hand.


On the train to Delih

Haus Khas

Haus Khas

Haus Khas

Chic kebab restaurant

Chic kebab restaurant

Chic kebab restaurant

Chic kebab restaurant

INA market. Those are goat heads

INA market

INA market

INA market
Thank goodness I did not buy this dress

Sarojini Market, Delhi

I did buy this shirt, but I swear I was not angry.

I spent a little time teaching this man to take a picture of me

A great South Indian thali for less than $2

Same South Indian canteen as in picture above.


ADA would not be happy, but I was glad that at least we had sidewalks

I had been told that despite sidewalks, people still walked in the street. Guess this person was right.

Sweets being offered at the gudwara.

Gudwara

I will have a long life because I washed myself in this pool of water.



Holy water at the gudwara

That's me, in the distance.

People waiting to be fed at the gudwara

Chipati line at the gudwara

One of the most gigantic pots I have ever seen

Chipati makin machine








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