Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Market, The Metro, The Holiday Feast and The Visit

I'm utterly exhausted.

What a day!

The Market - I walked 15 minutes or so to the Central Market today located in Lajpat Nagar just across the highway from Defense Colony. This market is known for all kinds of shopping, especially for Indian clothing both formal and casual. It's one of the most crowded and most popular markets in Delhi. You can find just about anything here. At 10 in the morning I didn't find it crowded at all, that probably because half the shops were still closed, a few were in the process of opening the a few were already open business. Walking around was quite easy, there were no hoards of people this early in the morning. Actually, there were no cows either. Where did the cows go? I was a bit apprehensive about taking photos of people so after walking around  for a while I just pulled my camera out of my back pack and started walking with it my hand. It didn't take long for some one to stop me and ask that I take a photo of his stall, which I did. Then I asked if I could take his photo, he said yes, so I did. After showing him his photo on the camera's screen I reached in my back pack and pulled out my Polaroid GoGo pocket size printer. In 60 seconds I had printed a wallet size photo of the shop owner and handed it to him. The look on his face was priceless, and his sincere appreciation very evident. It's amazing how many doors that opened! So I took about 10 photos of different people and gave them each a print. I'll admit I was a bit flustered and worried about hundreds of people lining up so I didn't get great quality photos. But I'll head back there and do it again. I think I have enough of the specialty paper to do about 100 photos so I need be careful about not using them all up right away. There are more photos below at the end of this post.

One of many streets in the Central Market at Lajpat Nagar

The Delhi Metro -  As I was walking back from the market I got a phone call from Nimisha, her great grandmother was the sister of my grandmother, so I guess we're cousins. She said that she and her husband Kunal were off work today and wanted me to join them for lunch. With no other plans I said sure. She lives 20 kilometers from where I was at which was going to be a very long and very expensive taxi ride. Nimisha suggested that I should take the Metro which was supposed to be quick and inexpensive. She gave me directions, I bought a token and started my adventure.  It was actually quite easy though I had to take three different trains. I got on at Lajpat Nagar which is right by the market I was at and got off four stops later at Central Secrateriat. There I took the yellow line and got off the second stop at Rajiv Chowk and then I got on the blue line, eventually getting off at Rajendra Place. Every sign was in English and Hindi and it was actually quite easy to navigate. The ride up was uneventful, comfortable and quick. The ride back was a whole new experience. Remember all that stuff you might have seen on television with people packing themselves into trains until there was no more room, then packing more people in? That was my ride back. There was no need to hold on to anything as I was wedge in pretty good. On the ride up everyone stared at me. Maybe it was that deer in a headlight look I had. No one stared at me on the way back, maybe I had that look of "I know what I'm doing". I was watching how people would stage them selves to get on and off so when a man came up behind me and spoke to me in Hindi I had no idea what he was saying but guessed that he was asking if I was getting of at the next stop. I quickly answer 'huh' (yes in Hindi), he nodded, and we both got off. I think I'm starting to blend in. Sorry, no photos of the Metro, that's illegal in Delhi.

The Holiday Feast - I got off the Delhi Metro at Rajendra Place and called Nimisha to let her know of my arrival. Ten minutes later her husband Kunal arrived and took me in his car to their home. They live on campus of the cooking school, Nimisha literally has to walk 100 feet to work. When we arrived there was about 200 people in the common area, more on that in a minute. Kunal took me into his home where I met Nimisha, we sat for a few minutes and then their son Saksagm came in and introduced himself. We talked for a while and then went back outside. What I didn't know is that today is a Sikh holiday called Guru Nanak Jayanti. It is associated with the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev ji, the founder of the Sikh religion. This is a day celebrated by Sikhs and the Punjabi community worldwide. Part of that celebration is serving free lunches and participating in community services.  Here at the cooking school all of the students cooked traditional Punjabi food and served it to the facility and their families. The grassy area was designated as the GurudwarasNimisha spoke to one of the servers that she asked him to bring me a fork. I took the fork and laid it down beside me, I wanted to eat as everyone else did, with my hand.  We had chole (chickpeas in a spicy sauce, my favorite), aloo and gobi (potato and cauliflower), salad, puri and roti (two types of flat bread) and rice. It was sooooo good. I could have ate and ate and ate and ate but I don't need to put on any extra pounds. I was so honored to have been invited to this function, the students really did a great job in cooking. There was also some desserts that I actually loved. Fancy looking and not too sweet.

The Visit - after lunch I had time to enjoy visiting with my cousin and her family. Nimisha told me about how we're related. We talked about family values, food, schooling video games and so on. Her husband Kunal is the dean at the IEC Institute of Hotel Management. They both really love their jobs. I did also learn that arranged marriages are still the norm in India, love marriages are not yet common. I learned that it's uncommon to invite friends to a wedding. When inviting just relatives there are still 200 to 300 people in attendance. Imagine if you invited friends!


Shop owner, children's clothing stall

Catching some zzz's before the lunch rush
Rickshaw loaded with textiles

Quiet street early in the morning

Friends, asked for their picture to be taken

Shoe stall owner

Sweeping the street

Food stall getting ready for the lunch rush

Quiet streets in the morning

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