Tag Archives: New Delhi

146: Getting Into The Skin Of Delhi

26 May

For decades, and even till late last evening, the idea of spending an obnoxiously hot summer afternoon outdoors was just never an option for consideration. Ever. I never lived in this part of the country for more than five years, all put together, and there was never a time when even during touristy summer visits, that we stepped out during loo-y, debilitating afternoons. Evenings were a lesson enough, whenever we did venture out i.e. But here was a chance I was getting to explore a hugely popular shopping market with a colleague after school hours. It was the beginning of the weekend and our summer break – a celebration of sorts was warranted after the mad day every single teacher had had. Therefore this was an opportunity on many counts – one of making new friends, seeing this city more, plus fabulous flea-market shopping which automatically adds +5000 points to the entire deal, no?

And so I went along with a colleague, and so we shopped till a point when all I wanted to do was get into my cab and flee from the market. I barely lasted 2.5 hours, but we did see quite a bit, and I did go crazy quite a bit too. From my explorations, here’s what I discovered about Sarojini Market in New Delhi:

They’ve got the best stuff ever.
They’ve got all the latest fashion trends hanging in every nook and cranny.
However, if there’s a fashion trend doing the rounds, it’s very difficult to find anything/something that doesn’t fit said trend.
They sell clothes at a steal. We picked up beautiful cotton shorts for the men in our families for 150 rupees apiece, tops ranging from 100-250 rupees apiece, and the softest cotton nightwear at not more than 250 bucks apiece.
I even chanced upon ceramics for a steal – where two beautiful mugs and a very pretty kettle cost me 250 in total.
Shopkeepers here do not bargain for some reason.
The ceramics stall guy did, though.
I prefer Lajpat Nagar for footwear and a greater refined collection of clothing and materials. Also, they bargain there.

However, all said and done, there’s no way I could’ve bought whatever I did, at the steal that I did, from anywhere other than Sarojini Market.

It indeed makes a shopper thrilled to find great collections and an even better price, without the pinch of spending the money that you do. I’ve never felt more satisfied after a shopping deal. Of course the last time I went to Sarojini Market was over a decade ago when I was a student and couldn’t exploit its offerings like I can now. But some things never change, and that’s just as comforting to anyone who wishes you venture into the streets and gullies of this market, where shops are as old as our grandparents but as up-to-date as the next tween is. Notwithstanding this weird habit (I’ve now come to realise; back then I was just another innocent alarmed Bangalorean) men have of fondling their crotches while talking to almost every customer; it’s a great place to spend many an evening at, because I’m certain every visit just allows us to explore just the tip of all that it has to offer. And having said that, I feel like a little more of me has gotten into this vibe that is New Delhi.

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42: Small Mercies

11 Feb

…or really large mercies, in this case.

The other day I came across this while in the midst of navigating my way around New Delhi’s maze of roads. I just had to switch my maps to my camera, shove my hand out to capture this, and then stare. Of course it could only be for a brief while because, well, I was navigating.

It’s a blessing to see the magnificence that hides behind NCR’s ghastly smog. It’s almost a miracle. :)

39: Dilliwali

8 Feb

A lot of me loves living in this city that I’ve now made my new home. It’s not a safe place to live in, is horribly polluted, but while it has quite a lot of negativity attached to its name and character, living in NCR has made me discover a lot about myself too. I never thought any place other than Bangalore could ever be my home, even after deciding to not settle in my home city. However, living in the northern part of my country has brought alive a lot that was latent in me. Bangalore will always be home, but I’ve come to realise quite some time ago, that home is wherever you’ll go; wherever you’ll feel like you’ve always belonged or are going to belong to. Cultures, people, climates, and other subjective factors aside, NCR has given me the space to germinate this feeling of home.

What I came here to do was to make this a picture post with captions. However, I seem to have digressed and overshot this caption word limit. Over the past week, I got to see more of Delhi while taking my in-laws out. Of course experiencing New Delhi is synonymous with diving headlong into its gastronomic delights. I promise that this really is the food capital of India – people love cooking, people love eating, people love feeding. It’s a collectivist attitude. From raw vegetables to greasy street Chinese, deep-fried snacks to steamed sweet potatoes, roasted groundnuts to chole bhature; this city has it all and more. I haven’t even experienced the tip of this iceberg.

Last week saw us eating at least one meal out. My MIL wanted some south-Indian fare, and the only one closest to us was a restaurant neither of us had visited. The previous place we took her to during her last visit was Sarvanna Bhawan all the way in CP which wasn’t feasible. However, the gem we stumbled upon just a ten minute walk from our house had me thank the universe – I don’t remember savouring a bowl of uddin vadas and rasam with this much satisfaction and joy, ever before. Their rasam is perfect, their vadas a pillowy crunchy dream. We gave this restaurant an encore a couple of days later – utterly delightful.

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Rasam Vada at Naivedyam

The best treasures to come across are when you’re knee-deep in shopping and too exhausted to care. If you’re in Lajpat Nagar, and you’ve either walked too much or shopped too much or both, you will stumble upon eateries tucked away in gullies, or stalls, or carts brimming with food. This is what we had and thoroughly enjoyed.

If the weather’s a dream, like it was when we visited LPN, do stop by for a roadside Chinese combo. At 130 bucks for a non-veg and 120 for a veg combo, it’s the perfect thing to have during winter shopping.

 

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Non-veg combo

Here’s what’s on our must-have list, when we visit LPN otherwise – ram laddoos and golgappe (not in the picture)

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Ram Laddoo

Now you know why I love living here more than I don’t. :)

5: BLR–DEL

5 Jan

The biggest win for me right now is that I logged in here, and didn’t log out within five minutes, leaving an insipid spirit of a draft behind. I had some idea about what I wanted to write for my next post yesterday, when I was to focus on whatever else was at hand then. But here I am, logged in, and letting my thoughts go crazy as I examine what seems to be a growing tribe of split-ends on my mane. As I pull them apart, the only thing that still screams out to me, as it did all of yesterday, was this urgent prayer hoping and praying that Bangalore doesn’t become the next New Delhi. A lot of me will never accept this drastic shift because all of me still believes that there is a core difference in the mindset of both these populations, but that seems to fast fade away, or is on its way to fading away. This stuff is an everyday, “regular” matter here, in Delhi. Bangalore seems to be catching up, unfortunately. I’m not going into the whats and whys and hows because I don’t want to.

There has been a substantial shift in my home city, and I feel it every time I visit home. I love my city, but it isn’t the same, and never will be. January 2017 will mark 20 years since we moved back to this city I’m always proud to call home. It means something. It means everything to me. And it’s heartbreaking at many levels, because here is this pseudo south-Indian, north-born-confused-south-Indian, so to speak, living in that part of the country where being South Indian is novel, and I use that word with great padding. I’m proud of my legacy, which comes from both parts of the country…I really am someone who belongs here and there, and nowhere all at once. But I know where my loyalties lie, even if that means being the odd one out at many a discussion, and jokes. Bangalore was always, in my eyes, a class apart in so many respects, but that voice seems to be getting meeker because of the reality we’re faced with, every day. I guess I will always belong, and not belong. The biggest task has been to understand and accept the differences, the reality of creating a new home which is so far removed from the one I used to call home (and still do). It hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t gotten there yet. But that’s me digressing from what was on my mind all of yesterday – Bangalore, please don’t become the next New Delhi.

Moving on, I still haven’t figured out what it was that I’d decided to write about for my fifth post. Oh well. This isn’t a new feeling, and is one that I experience every single weekend when I walk into my kitchen. My mind is always rife with ideas about the many things I want to make and for us to have together; except when it comes down to actually cooking. What a mindf**k. :P

Unnecessary Happies

4 Sep

I don’t think I can blog enough about the woes of not having a gas cylinder at home. A lot of me just wants to shut that part of my life at present out and think about all that is going well for us. And then I feel hungry which triggers the grouse all over again. We don’t have a gas connection and never bothered getting one – yay us. Now that we’ve shifted, I thought it best to get one for the many reasons why a gas connection is a must-have. But it’s taking time, naturally, since it’s government related, I figure. The two of us are caught in a weird scenario, a middle path of sorts…of whether to try and wait it out for some more time or to chuck it altogether and find an alternative. I don’t think we can eat out anymore – apart from the fact that eating out feels like a punishment in more ways than one (thanks to taxes and what not), it’s eating a hole into our pocket which is getting more outrageous by the day.

So yes, I don’t want to think about this or talk about this or have to deal with this…I promise to stop soon.

In lieu of all this adulting drama, we chanced upon two places in a span of <24 hours, places that I’ve keenly noted down.

While on a drive last night, we ended up in New Delhi and around Connaught Place, when we began feeling the pangs of hunger poke our mind and belly. We ended up stopping at this supremely crowded roadside eatery which is a healthy sign we look out for when eating at roadside places. This collection of four shops, all belonging to a Jain Chawal Wale brand, I presume, is where we fed ourselves a plate of rajma chawal and chole bhature. This place is known for its rajma chawal (kidney beans stew on rice) and so I gave it a sceptical try; sceptical because it was also the most reasonable meal I’ve had in my life – a solid plate of food for INR 50. Makes it sound dubious, yes. But I took the chance anyway; it’s a thing I’ve learnt about these big cities especially. It was a really decent meal, I’ll admit, and I was glad to brave it…we do it in other countries, why not ours, I thought. We’ve had better chole bhature, though. I’ve been trying to master making rajma myself, and the husband thought mine was better than the one we had here – so I’ve no idea what to say, really. But if you’re low on the pocket arena and are willing to try this out and are most importantly, in NCR, do give Jain Chawal Wale a try.


Today as the day proceeded, we figured a brunch scene would make sense. We stopped by for a proper English breakfast at this quaint Joint Cafe which plays not only amaze rock music and is very tastefully done up, but also serves some soul-satisfying food. Well fuelled and ready to do some serious work, the husband came back only to snooze, and me to, well, dream. Food coma happened to us, I presume.


Here I am now, sipping on some tea along with a muffin that came along with our breakfast we obviously couldn’t finish. I feel very English in my own way and it makes me happy. Unnecessarily happy, you know? There’s so much of it sometimes that it’s hard to feel grouchy or moody about the sluggishness and general lack of interest that’s hanging around the air like stale, musty air. Speaking of which, I got us some air freshener pouches which mum introduced to my world – the stale, musty air is being tackled literally and figuratively. These pouches have also been life changing.

Unnecessarily happying.

I hope you’re indulging in some of this stuff too.

Have a great Sunday, ya’ll.

New Delhi So Far – II

9 Apr

In continuation from this post earlier on, here’s more on what I’ve gathered from our nation’s capital region.

  • While I understood pretty early on (thanks to Bangalore) that autos here do not run on meters, I still ventured around using this mode of transport, from which I learned that a) meters are not used for regular distances, b) meters are used only for long distant journeys, c) you can haggle about the price you wish to pay as long as it is reasonable and in relation to the amount that is generally charged in a particular area, d) you need to have an air of confidence and assertiveness to bargain because they can sniff pretense out in a jiffy, e) not all auto walas are gundas even though I will take the absolute liberty to give each of them a gunda-esque status and judge them accordingly once the ride is over.

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  • In connection to the previous pointer, regular distances are areas that particular autos ply on, on a regular basis. Given the size of large metropolitan cities, each auto has a set area they ferry people within, just to make somebody’s (I’m not sure whose) life more organised. Long distances, I presume, would span outside this regional jurisdiction and will therefore require the auto wala to switch on his meter lest he get underpaid or something…or so I was told. Who’s to know?
  • In connection with points one and two, it has been confirmed that taking a cab is better than taking an auto because a) cab fares are very competitive here, b) your fare includes an air conditioned car, c) you are not imposed upon with pollution and dust and other paraphernalia that could come in your way if you were in an auto. At best, one ends up paying 10-15 bucks more than the auto fare and paying 10-15 rupees extra for a tracked, air conditioned drive (and not ride) is a steal. Having said that, autos are still in business for various reasons, one primary one being that they’re everywhere and are available on the spot minus the worry of an internet connection or waiting or a phone battery that threatens to die. And sometimes one needs the wind in their hair, especially on pleasant days.
  • People in this city have their golguppas/phuchkas/pani puri with chilled pani. They also have two varieties of puris – one made with ata (wheat flour) and the other made with suji (semolina). The latter is softer (therefore making it easier for old people and yours truly to have) and sometimes tastier, but definitely heavier on the tummy than the regular ata ones we’re all used to having. I knew this from before, but I’ve no idea how I forgot to mention it here earlier.
  • In Bangalore, we say amma, ma, boss, guru, anna, macha or even sir to address men and women. In NCR (National Capital Region) we say behenji, madamji, auntyji, aap, bhai, uncle, uncleji, hanhji (as I’m addressed) and the term abe oye and saale if you’re calling someone younger, someone you’re acquainted with or someone you feel is not up to your level… However, I haven’t heard women use that very commonly.
  • Bangalore has two kinds of Hindi spoken – north Indian Hindi and south Indian Hindi. I’ve not counted how many dialects of Hindi I’ve heard here, but I’m sure there are more than at least five.
  • However, there is only one type of Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil I have heard here – the ones spoken by Kannadigas, Malayalees and Tamilians. Hearing Kannada makes me want to backtrack my steps and follow the speaker(s) just so I can hear it some more.
  • People here do not put rangoli at their gates. If anybody does, they have their roots or connections to the South.
  • Despite having a large non-vegetarian loving population, not many people love fish. It’s a common thing for a north Indian to not love fish (and I mean LOVE fish) the way many, many south Indians (me included) do.
  • Licensed refrigerated drinking water carts on the streets are a thing, especially in summer. Glasses of cold water garnished with a rose petal and the option to add salt and/or sugar to replenish lost electrolytes in this blistering heat is a God send.

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  • While Bangalore is a biryani lover’s paradise, NCR is not. I’ve had the most disappointing experiences especially when my cravings have been so strong. Who would do that to a food lover? Anyway, not all hope is lost. The hunt for a good biryani in the nation’s food capital is still on.
  • I’ve seen more Audis, Beemers, Mercs, Jags, Land Rovers, Porches, here than I have in my entire lifetime. Needless to say, the display of wealth is vastly different in various parts of the country.
  • Buttttttttttttt, primarily due to climatic and safety (among many other) reasons, I’ve seen fewer bikes. While restaurants and many commercial spaces reserve exclusive parking slots for the Harley Davidson clan, I’ve not come across as many cruisers as I have in Bangalore.
  • The first and last coaches of the metro are reserved exclusively for women. Some coaches have the entire seating in pink to make it more clear.

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  • If you are to use the metro and want to go to Connaught Place, your station will be Rajiv Chowk. It is the peak time Dadar, the mad Majestic of all stations here, just to put things into perspective. This is also where one alights if you’ve to catch a train from New Delhi railway station.
  • While Airtel’s services are rock solid in Bangalore and the south where network and connectivity are concerned, it’s a goner here. My network is always indicative of not being there at all – before a call arrives and during a call (should the call come through), but never after the call is done with. My ‘no service’ bar promptly springs all its five dots back into action once a call has gone past or has been battled for. It’s a wonder how the Airtel 4G ad and its annoying partner in crime even made it here.
  • When people speak of the pollution here, it’s for real. I carried an umbrella with me the other weekend because it was getting dark and indicative of possible rainfall. However, the sky was clear but the streetlights were on (by 5pm) due to the smog which I had mistaken for a grey rain cloud.
  • There are peacocks almost everywhere, at least in the lesser populated areas. There are also the occasional monitor lizards who decide to take their strolls on the road from time to time.
  • Speaking of which, the lizards here are larger in size than what I’m used to in Bangalore. As are the mosquitoes.
  • Garbage segregation is sadly not a thing here, yet.
  • While it is so heartening to see tender coconut water vendors dotting the roads of this region, it’s a bad idea to have this drink before and a few hours after the sun has set…because then you’d be drinking hot tender coconut water and that’s just oxymoronish.
  • The newspapers here file a picture of an unidentified dead person, mostly at railway stations, on almost a daily basis. It’s something I haven’t seen in newspapers before, or not at this frequency at least.
  • To drastically change from that morbid point previously, the caramel popcorn here is one of the greatest I’ve had. Inox in Bangalore serves the best. The Inox here serves a mean one.
  • Speaking of which (and by which, I mean food), come summer and every single neighbourhood is dotted with at least three ice cream carts – one from Walls, one from Mother Dairy and one from Cream Bell. We even have a separate cart for Magnum. They come in by early evening and stay up till about 11pm and leave when everyone else wraps up. It’s a big thing to walk up or drive to these carts when you feel like an ice cream treat.

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While I am picking up the nuances of this city gradually, there is still a never ending list of things to observe and see. Therefore it goes without saying that this learning will continue and has a long way to go.

The Day After Holi

25 Mar

Having lived in Bangalore for almost all of my life, I’ve naturally experienced Bangalore’s ways of doing things. Before I moved out, Bangalore was my only reference point and it was my all (naturally!), and still largely is. So imagine my shock when Holi came because clearly I’ve been observing Holi in a way that is so, very unlike the way Holi is really celebrated. To be honest, one seldom knows it’s festival time in Bangalore barring the ones Bangaloreans celebrate with great gusto and grandeur; them being Sankranti, Ugadi, Ganesh Chaturti and Diwali (to some extent). This isn’t to say that the city and its people are intolerant to other festivals. It just all seems largely muted, tame and sombre…to an extent where one wonders whether it’s festival time or not. I’ve grown up amidst this and so when Holi came, I went about my usual business, nonchalant about the fact that maybe things wouldn’t be the same, because this isn’t Bangalore anymore.

My husband stocked up the day before Holi and asked me if I wanted to buy things; to which I didn’t pay much attention. Come Holi, we decided to visit relatives who stay at least two hours by road during traffic hours away from where we stay. We reached in under an hour. The city was dead…the otherwise always filled roads were empty, the crazy traffic was absent, malls were shut, booze shop shutters were down (it’s a big thing for booze shops to be shut here for they never close), vendors were missing from their usual spots, restaurants were empty and closed…nobody was outside. Residential areas saw groups of people walk around, smeared with colour…the main roads were barren. Metro trains were stationery, shopping markets were deserted. It sounds so eerie and it looked that way too. Bangalore during Holi is normal – nothing shuts, everything runs. Come to look at it, nothing shuts in Bangalore during a festival, except during Ayudha Puja when every machine is stopped, cleaned, worshiped. To find every single component of a city’s life missing was a new experience.

I was reminded about how big Holi and Diwali are as festivals…something I had become almost ignorant about over the years. It is a big deal to shut shop. It is a big deal to know what’s happening. And it is a big deal to merge with what’s happening. There are no options to not participate even if you do it in whichever way you like. And to tell you the truth, there is something extremely warm, welcoming and inclusive about that. Festivals and their celebrations go beyond the hows and whys and intellectualization of them. They’re about the here and now, they’re about the feeling and about embracing that feeling, minus any inhibitions. There is no room for offense, no space for armchair-ness.

In my mind, and like I’d mentioned here, I was prepared to hide, run away, make excuses… I had decided to do it the way I knew it and the way I like it – all food, no force, no colour. I had also inherently decided that everything else that didn’t go by this was wrong, rude and lacking of civility. Besides, the idea of mindlessly wasting water and smearing oneself with harmful chemicals is far from appealing and welcome to me. It’s therefore not much to imagine the mood my day started off with. Being crabby comes easily, I reckon.

But when the time came and it was almost a done thing to put some shagun ka gulal (a smear of colour for auspiciousness), it felt like the most beautiful, encompassing feeling to have my husband smear my face with the colours of Holi, the colours of Spring and for me to do the same to him. Of course, there are no points for guessing who was gentle and kind with the colours and who wasn’t, between the two of us (haha!). There was a sense of peace, gentility and love…so unlike what we imagine and have often seen the celebrations of Holi to be. There was lots of music, lots of dancing, lots of good food, lots of Holi milan (meeting each other during Holi), lots of togetherness and a sense of community that is so, so rare in today’s time. I imagined being caught by force and dunked with colours, water and everything too ghastly. But wherever I looked, people held small bags of colour, smearing each others faces…the act ending in an embrace. There were snippets of those ghastly Holi celebrations in some houses that I shamelessly peeped into, but that apart, it felt peaceful and gentle, at large…distinctly different from everything I associate with Holi, and therefore despise. Or maybe because this was my first Holi here, away from a place that observes it so starkly differently, that I was spared the actuality of its ways. Who knows?

Learning: All that’s in our head, is just there…in our head.

The Call Of Home

23 Mar

The last time I went to Bangalore, I brought back with me two measly packets of filter coffee powder. Measly because I’m not an everyday coffee drinker and even if I felt like my coffee drinking habit was going that way (because omg it’s filter coffee and what’s not to love and get hooked on to!?), I’d put a stop to it immediately…therefore the option to carry a very limited supply of coffee powder that we do not get so freely over here, was chosen. Not having it every single day also ensures that it retains its novelty, its crisp ability to make me feel all that I want to in an instant when I miss home…stocked enough to give me my sense of happiness when I need it. There’s so much attached to an experience of sipping (sometimes loudly when no one’s around) that mug of strong, hot, aromatic, earthy coffee.

But then I had a chance to restock my supply and so I’ve been drinking it with more freedom and less guilt the past few days. However, it was just yesterday when I was sitting all by myself with this mug of rustic goodness only to be immediately transported back home on sipping it. It’s not the first time, but I let it soak in and see where the experience would take me. I have a home of my own now, like my previous posts have been testament to. But here is this one association that has become so innate, so spontaneous and so powerful that sitting so far away from my mother’s home, I feel like I’m immediately surrounded by the essence of her place. No, she isn’t a filter coffee drinker as such and neither do we perform the (sacred) ritual of preparing a decoction and going through the entire experience on a daily basis. But filter coffee has, over the years, become a very strong and definitive link to what I associate with the feeling of being home.

No, it does not feel like I’ve been transported back to Bangalore when I sip on my coffee. On the contrary, it feels like Bangalore has come to me, that my associations with the city and its ways, habits, culture, have come right to me and intermingled with my space here. It’s a heady feeling to experience this amalgamation really. Isn’t that really the essence of home in its entirety…to be able to feel comfortable wherever you are…to not feel out of place? Sitting in Delhi, steeped in a climate so unlike Bangalore’s, surrounded by people so different from Bangaloreans, walking its ways characteristically far removed from Bangalore, will always be a reminder that I’ve left home for good. But like I’ve been saying in my earlier posts, we do tend to add facets of what we’ve left behind into our present spaces to give it that added touch of comfort, familiarity and soul. It’s no wonder traditions never fade, at least the ones that really matter.

For me it’s a cup of filter coffee and the taste of coconut that lifts me up and makes me feel like I can be here and there without physically moving. It’s beautiful to see how strong these associations are and how we realise them only after we’re so far removed from where they buried themselves into our very core. It makes me believe that home can, and will be wherever we want it to be…it brings to me the realization that perhaps we never really leave home at all. Such a radiant moment of realisation, isn’t it? I’m thinking we carry home in us, because as clichéd as it sounds, haven’t we always been told or haven’t we always read that home is where our heart is? These clichés really are more weighty than we credit them with.

But it’s a good thing, and so very, very reassuring…it makes moving out that much more comforting and less daunting.

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Just a simple cup of desi joe, some quiet morning time interspersed with the ruffle of a newspaper and the chiming of birds, the whir of the fridge, the seduction of crisping toasts, the fine fingers of sunshine touching yours, the tease of the breeze outside, the call from Time to tell you to just sit still… I’m thinking this is nothing short of meditation. Except, this has food. So it’s got to be more than great right?

New Delhi So Far

11 Jan
  • This city is always on alert, if not on high alert. And that in itself makes you try and imagine or wonder about the magnitude and impact that its existence has on not just its residents but on the country entirely. There are cops and cop cars and security machines and public announcements to keep a look out for suspicious objects and unattended bags. There are guns and there are bunkers. There are security personnel and then there are those gully shop owners who look like hustlers and friends of cops and spies and everything rolled into one. Just like in the movies. I’m not kidding. Also it’s not as scary as it sounds.
  • The roads of this city are just so broad and such a welcome sight from Bangalore’s scene. However, the traffic sense is not. There’s an aggression here that I’ve never seen before and while pedestrians risk their lives to irk Delhi’s drivers because really you just do not decide to jump in front of a car that is driving on Delhi’s broad and zero potholed roads at the very last minute, they are a brave lot and really don’t give a fuck.
  • No one in this city seems to give a fuck. And while that can suck a big deal, it’s sometimes the best part too. Except when you really need someone to give a fuck and they don’t. Then that’s not very welcome but that does still exist.
  • Taxi drivers and tempo walas are the worst. They actually make autos look decent.
  • Not everyone says dosa the way every south Indian hates hearing the word dosa being pronounced. I’ve heard it being said correctly and almost naturally so. Such many prides.
  • Talking about food; you’re sorted if you live in this city. I mean it. They’ve got it all and everything is a literal explosion in your mouth; be it at fancy places or at roadside stalls. Except the burgers. I haven’t found a burger that can compete with my chicken and bacon staple at M46. Not yet. But the hunt is on.
  • Chai must get a special space because chai here is like chai I’ve had nowhere else. Get your hands on chai at any and every corner of this place and it will not disappoint. And there’s ginger in it by default, which adds brownie points to the entire experience. However, let’s see if it’s only a winter tradition or the practice in general.
  • This city’s residential complexes are so, so, so developed. And by that I mean they are self-sufficient right from grocers to meat stalls to vegetable shops to opticians to tailors to electricians to mehendi walas to chai walas to banks to dry cleaners to book stores to beauty salons – unisex – and of course, they’re laden with restaurants; at least 10. At least. You seldom need to go anywhere else. Imagine doing all that at amazing rates and great qualities at every BDA complex in Bangalore. That’s what I’m talking about. It makes me want Koramangala and Indiranagar to pimp their BDA complexes and be the shizz that these are.
  • There’s more greenery than I’ve seen in any city and has enough to give Bangalore competition. It made me gasp because I’m competitive by nature. And while Delhi can be a forerunner in this area, it can never take beer, filter coffee and dosa from Bangalore. So that’s okay. It made me relax a little bit and feel like we’re even. You know? But yes, I haven’t seen as many streets lined with trees like I have over here. Of course they’re not those huge, almost ubiquitous ones that we find lining New BEL road, among many others. But trees are trees and they’re ever so awesome to see, wherever.
  • I haven’t discovered the perfect tandoori chicken so far. And while that’s a heart-breaker, the hunt for that perfect, moist, flavourful and magical tandoori chicken is on. However, unlike in Bangalore, every version of tandoori chicken I’ve had here has tasted different. It’s like opening a (foil) bag full of (flavourful) surprises every single time. Haha!
  • The autos here do not run on meters. While the distances are large because the city is not small by any means, the fares seem outrageous. It looks like I have a Bangalore auto meter running in my head constantly. Of course that doesn’t help or serve any purpose apart from making me feel alarmed. I guess that’s what auto meters are there for.
  • The sight of the massive Indian flag swaying in Connaught Place is forceful and magnetizing enough to have you staring at it for what may be forever. However, I wish someone would change it to a cleaner one given that the white on it doesn’t really look white any more. But that still doesn’t rob the sight of its power and feeling.
  • There’s an air, a bustle, a spirit about this city that is tangible and totally infectious. Everyone is out there doing their own thing and you’re a part of this whirling mass, moving along with that same sense of soulfulness that magically just catches on. That’s the thing I love about big cities; it doesn’t take more than a moment for it to engulf you in its grasp and before you know it, you’re a part of it.
  • No matter how many times I pass the same road, I always almost automatically, look out for Karnataka Bhavan and of course, Sarvanna Bhavan. The former doesn’t concern food while the latter totally does.
  • Its radio stations really could do with a lift what with them overflowing with unnecessary banter, mostly senseless music and a lot of Arvind Kejriwal very actively ensuring his voice and pleas linger in the subconsciousness of every resident here. And then there’s Punjabi music when all else fails. So yes, this is one aspect that makes me feel alien like nothing else has so far.

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Let’s see how the rest of the journey in this side of the country pans out. This is, of course, just the beginning and there’s so much more to learn, see, experience and understand. I’m sitting on top of an iceberg and one that’s got more soul and mass to it than can be described. While it has its share of douchebags like every other city also does, there is something about this place that makes you want to experience and explore it more. Really, it does.

Experiences And Challenges

4 Jan

While I’m certain there’s more to my life than blogging and recording my day-to-day activities, especially in the gastronomic area, it’s a privilege to find the time and space to do something like this today; an act I wish became a habit rather than the occasional whim it currently is. Of course that sort of thing requires discipline and a will that’s concrete enough to make one get into the habit of documenting; something I clearly lack even though I’m constantly making mental notes wherever I go or whenever I do something that is worth recording for keeps.

The past few days have been spent exploring the capital city and every experience brims with tales of character, stories laden with history and anecdotes ornate with memories. Delhi is historical in every sense of the word; a city that speaks through its being, a place that has more to tell you at every nook if you’re willing to stop and listen. I’ve been enthralled by its essence as much as it can be repelling, even. Like every metropolitan, here is a city that has space for everyone who cares to stay, explore and take from it all that it has to offer; even the numerous skeletons in its closets from times abound. I’ve never been a big city girl because I haven’t lived in one before. But there’s something so attractive, so magnetic, so enchanting about a big city, its messes included, that’s hard to resist. And it’s something I love, I’ve learnt.

My memories of Delhi go back to my childhood and my associations bring back waves of nostalgia that brim with warmth and a pull that’s hard to resist. It’s astounding how I have zero photographs of my experiences over the weekend that was; it’s simply an affair that’s too enigmatic to have you care about fetching your phone to capture it all. Hopefully there will be many more such experiences of walking the streets and gullies of this city; bursting at its seams with people, food, aromas, dust and of course a kind of dynamism that is only characteristic of India. It’s marvellous and addictive, captivating and fulfilling, soulful and spiritual, filthy yet so cleansing all in one. It’s a feeling very hard to come across and one that’s worthy of an embrace one too many. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about if you’ve visited India’s four ‘original’ metropolises – New Delhi, Calcutta (Kolkata), Bombay (Mumbai) and Madras (Chennai).

In between gathering experiences from my adventures outside our house, the challenge of cooking for two and sometimes one, as I’ve ranted about here, is ongoing, much to my fatigue sometimes. It’s a mammoth task because the threat of eating leftovers is much too painful to encounter and one that I don’t wish to cross paths with often (or at all, if I had the chance to). Finding variances in dishes to make something that we will both love and devour (because that’s what I’m gunning for) is a test of my creativity that is often-times successful, sometimes stressful. I’m taking it as a phase of learning so I can go out guns all blazing when the time comes. Of course I haven’t documented this side of affairs either; what with me being terrible and such a sloth, especially in this department. But never have I made such a variety of things to eat under such short spans of time; with the added plus point of devouring vegetables at a rate that astounds even my fussy mind. Call it winter vegetable love for all I know. It also gives me the opportunity to pile the husband’s plate with as many as I can, and then sneakily some more.

Off late, here’s what I’ve been making by the kilograms because we love it and because its all things lovely, peaceful, happy and, well, delicious.

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Hummus makes the world a sadder place; said no one ever.

Remember the million chickpeas I’d soaked earlier on? Well, guess where they came handy! While I haven’t made any notes on measurements, this dish/dip/sauce/goodness of heaven is the easiest thing to prepare.

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I began by soaking and then boiling a portion of chickpeas till they were cooked but not squishy-cooked.

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Then came a splattering of white sesame seeds that I roasted till they were the goldenest and fragrantest. They burn quickly and that’s something we do not want at all. So get them to become a lovely shade of brownish gold to help make tahini that gives you what I can only describe as the ‘boom’ to your hummus.

Blitz the sesame seeds with olive oil till you get a paste that’s thick and slightly runny – hello tahini!

Pile the chickpeas, about a teaspoon of tahini, some grated garlic, salt, a couple tablespoons of the water you boiled the chickpeas in and a very generous drizzle of olive oil and blend till you have the smooth wonder we all love to eat and embrace and dream about. Season with some more olive oil and herbs (if you wish, though there’s a bomb of flavours already in).

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If you’re rationing chickpeas or have boiled way too many than you’d prepared for (like yours truly), store the rest away for other dishes that catch your fancy and curiosity.

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I used my spare stock to make super quick chole (chickpea) preps that are suitable for snacking or even a meal accompaniment.

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I love this challenge and its versatility – it gives me the space to do as I please and more often than not, it’s an extremely rewarding experience. Of course if you’re the type that loves feeding people (and yourself), it’s a challenge and experience worth taking on.

Of course it’s another thing that I do not want to see chickpeas for a long time now.

Except for hummus.

Hummus for life and peace and love.

And hummus for leftover chickpeas you never want to see again.

Haha! Happy new year, folks!