Wednesday 30 November 2011

My India: Delhi

Day Three: Wednesday 2 November 2011

Our third day in Delhi was spent at three markets. I love markets because they offer 'a chance to immerse in the authentic reality of a region', a reflection of the culture of the place/country - what the people eat or wear, their handicrafts, what they use in their homes, etc. We ventured to the Sarojini Nagar Market and this shopping haven had many wholesale outlets. At the Meera Sari Shop, we all bought quite a few pieces of sari and shalwar kameez material, even shawls including pashminas. In India, you must bargain, bargain, bargain. But... you will still find things cheaper than what you had paid for, somewhere else! Never mind, because when you buy, you do always get a cup of masala chai/tea from the proprietors.

The shops in Sarojini Nagar Market spill out onto the pavements
(CNB 2011)

A pretty fruit arrangement, vendor nowhere in sight (CNB 2011)

Indian Gods galore! at the Sarojini Nagar Market (CNB 2011)

A very colourful stall at the Sarojini Nagar Market
(CNB 2011)

Our salesman at the Meera Sari Shop posing in a wedding
 sari! How very elegant! The sari, I mean (CNB 2011)

We practised our bargaining powers at the Meera Sari Shop (2011)

Sari materials from all over India are sold here (CNB 2011)

Lunch was at a South Indian Vegetarian restaurant, Saravana Bhavan, in Janpath. Two of us had thali - the rice, bread, and all its side dishes, one had dosa and another, a type of naan. It was a change from the biryanis/North Indian food that we had before.

Our thali (metal plate) lunch at the Saravana Bhavan (CNB 2011)

Me and my thali lunch at SB (RMN 2011)

Just outside the SB was this paan-wallah and his offer of sweet betel quid
(betel leaf, areca nut, slaked lime paste + candied fruit), as palate cleanser,
breath freshener, or digestive. But chew at a risk of mouth cancer because
areca nut is carcinogenic! (CNB 2011)

After lunch it was just a hop and skip away to the Janpath Market: shops and along pathways. The small shops sell everything, but the Janpath Lane open market area is more interesting and colourful. The salespeople, mainly women, call out to you to come 'buy cheap'. Indeed they are (cheap, comparatively), but you must still bargain! The attractive houseware they exhibited included table cloths, runners, cushion covers, bedspreads, etc., etc., mostly from Gujarat and Rajasthan. There are clothes and bags as well. And as DNA said, "Rugi kalau tak beli" (You miss out if you don't buy!). So we all bought something(s), and needless to say, we returned to this market twice again during our stay in Delhi!

The Janpath Lane open market (CNB 2011)

Pretty embroidered table runners, cushion covers, etc. (DFH 2011)

In the evening, we went to another market, Dilli Haat. There is entrance fee to pay (20 rupees each) to get into this market. It is a showcase of the handicrafts and food of the various states in India, and they had a theme each month. There was so much to see and appreciate, and the array of handicrafts, etc. are dazzling. The Kashmiri stalls sold the most beautiful shawls and pashminas, and the selection was just mind boggling. India, me thinks, is a shopaholic's heaven. So be prepared to pay for excess baggage at the airport when you are going home. (You have been warned!)

Stalls at Dilli Haat selling clothes and trinkets (CNB 2011)

A stall at Dilli Haat selling indigenous decorative items (CNB 2011)

Sri Devi sells Hyderabad pearls at this stall in Dilli Haat (CNB 2011)

Monday 28 November 2011

My India

Namaste! Recently I went to India with two friends RMN & DFH, and it was a very memorable eleven days there for us. We stayed with a friend DNA in New Delhi, and from here also visited Agra and Jaipur. As first time visitors to 'incredible !ndia', the 'golden triangle' of these three cities is a must.

We were most fortunate that DNA had both the services of a driver and a housekeeper. So our stay in Delhi was most comfortable. We had the opportunity to explore Delhi, both Old and New. Unfortunately, the fourth day into our trip, my camera failed to function properly, overexposing any photos taken. So from then on I had to rely on my handphone camera and my friends' generosity to share their photos!

Day One: Monday 31 October 2011

We touchdown early at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the afternoon, our kind host DNA waiting for us there. The airport is new, built in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Delhi, site of more than a dozen cities since ancient times, is now home to over 22 million people. But as DNA assured us, and I rephrase, 'Delhi is chaos, but it works'.

The Indira Gandhi International Airport (CNB 2011)

Our first glimpse of the ubiquitous yellow-green auto-rickshaw
of Delhi (CNB 2011)

When we reached DNA's place, she had lunch delivered to us in a very pretty carrier/container. And the lamb biryani inside was just heavenly. For dessert, we had an Indian sweet, soan papdi. Our first taste of India? Incredible!

Biryani delivery in a pretty carrier (CNB 2011)

Delicious lamb biryani (CNB 2011)

Soan papdi, compliments of Babu (CNB 2011)

On our first evening in Delhi, DNA took us to India Gate, a 42 metre/138 ft high archway built in 1931 by the British to honour Indian soldiers who died during World War I. An eternal flame also burns here for the unknown soldier. The area around India Gate along Rajpath is very much alive at sunset because the locals with their families gather here to enjoy the wide open spaces.

The India Gate (CNB 2011)

Instant photo of us in a different light literally,
L-R: DFH, DNA, me & RMN (Delhi-wallah photographer 2011)

Day Two: Tuesday 1 November 2011

India has 16 cultural sites, 5 natural sites, and 1 industrial site inscribed on the World Heritage list (Archeological Survey of India). The first we visited in Delhi, was the Qutb Minar and its adjoining monuments. The Qutb complex consists of the Qutb Minar, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Iron Pillar, Screen, Alai Darwaza, Imam Zamin's Tomb, Alauddin's Tomb & Madrasa, Iltutmish's Tomb and Alai Minar. Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Muslim Sultan of Delhi, built the mosque and tower in 1199, to celebrate the victory of Islam in India. Qutb Minar is at 72.5 metres, the highest stone tower in India. (Note: Shamsuddin Iltutmish was the third Sultan in 1210, and Alauddin Khalji the 13th in 1296).

The Qutb complex garden & imposing Qutb Minar
(RMN 2011)

The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque (CNB 2011)

The cloisters of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque,
the pillars made of materials from ransacked temples (CNB 2011)

At the Qutb Minar base (DFH 2011)

The Qutb Minar soaring at 72.5 metres. Suicidal jumps
off the tower have caused it to be closed since the 1980s
(CNB 2011)

Detail of the Screen of Qutbuddin Aibak (CNB 2011)

The Iron Pillar in front of the Screen. The IP has not rusted in
 1600 years (CNB 2011)

At the Tomb of Iltutmish (DFH 2011)

Local Bollywood wannabes posing at the Madrasa
 of Alauddin Khalji (CNB 2011)

With local tourists at the Qutb complex. Locals pay only 10 rupees while foreigners
pay 250/300 rupees for entrance into the Indian World Heritage sites, excluding the
Taj Mahal where the cost is 750 rupees for foreigners (RMN 2011)

The garden seen through the Alai Darwaza/South
Gateway (CNB 2011)

Detail including jali screen on the Alai Darwaza
(CNB 2011)

Goofing around in front of the incompleted/abandoned Alai Minar -
Alauddin Khalji's ambitious project to build a tower bigger
and taller than the Qutb Minar (DFH 2011)

For lunch we went to the swanky mall in Saket, the Select Citywalk for a look-see. But we chose to eat at the famous Karim's, at its outlet in the DFL Place Food Chowk.

The Select Citywalk mall, just like any other mall! (CNB 2011)

Okay, a bit different. They have more shops selling saris &
shalwar kameez (CNB 2011)

Karim's Lamb biryani at the Food Chowk, DFL Place (CNB 2011)

In the evening, we went to the Khan Market, where I bought a shalwar kameez (of Ajrakh traditional block printing) from FabIndia, and a novel Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani from the bookstore of Bahri Sons, a bookplace I just had to visit. Then DNA's dinner treat for us and a friend DAW, was at the Chicken Inn, Pandara Road. The menu of tandoori chicken, mutton kashmiri, shahi kurma with nan and rice was very good. Dessert was kulfi/ice cream and my favourite, gulab jamun, delish!

The bookshop of Bahri & Sons in the Khan Market 
has an old world charming ambience (CNB 2011)

Dinner for five at the Chicken Inn (Waiter 2011)

Tandoori chicken at the Chicken Inn (CNB 2011)

Dessert: Kulfi/ice cream and Gulab jamun (CNB 2011)
31 Oct - 10 Nov 2011

Salam Maal Hijrah 1433

Salam Maal Hijrah 1433. May all your doas be fulfilled and may we all hijrah (migrate) from any bad to good and any negative to positive.

(Sorry I am a day late posting this because the Muslim New Year began yesterday 27th November 2011, but, better late than never.)

Sunday 20 November 2011

My Singapura in pictures (2009)

M, B, our friends from Iran, Agha Moandes ('Mr Engineer') Asaad and his wife and I went to Singapore after our trip to Indonesia. Our friends wanted to maximise the time they had in this part of the world, so it was one hectic round of Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, Singapore (and later Pulau Pinang).

The Singapore skyline, the huge malls, the wide roads, the riverside...

The almost compulsory Singapore River cruise

By the iconic Raffles Hotel

At the Long Bar of Raffles Hotel, where the 'Singapore Sling' was first concocted, and the only place in squeaky clean Singapore where you can litter the floor with peanut shells. The peanuts you see in the middle of the table are complimentary, so litter away!

B at the Long Bar (pun intended).

In another part of Raffles Hotel, beautifully restored.

B getting her feet wet at Siloso, the artificial beach on Sentosa Island. She's the one with the shopping bag, on the beach!

Waiting for the show to begin on Sentosa - the sound and light show, "Sounds of the Sea".