Saturday, January 15, 2011

Delhi, India January 15, 2011

Our trip to Delhi was uneventful. We had a slight delay at the airport for takeoff and then again to land in Delhi. The city was covered in winter fog. The climate here is much the same as Atlanta, Georgia; very warm most of the year with about 6 weeks of temperatures in the low thirties. It is winter right now, but the temperature has been rising steadily and today it was in the high 50’s. Delhi is a proper city. The streets are well maintained, the cars and drivers are almost respectful and there is very little petrol fumes in the air. The city has waged war on smog and emissions and has been quite successful in making considerable change the environment. Delhi is huge. Over 20 million people live in the metro area. And yet, it seems less crowded than the 20 million people crammed into the small islands of Mumbai.

We are staying with Keertan and Sharmishta and their daughter Sara. Sharmishta had visited me in the US when I lived in Bowling Green. They have a large and very modern flat in a closed compound. It has more square footage than my house and it also boasts 5 bathrooms. My biggest surprise was that Pizza Hut, Dominos and McDonalds delivers take out right to your home. While Devika and I snacked on dwal, rice and roti, our hosts preferred their usual Friday night treat of pizza. I imagined my own son and his family was doing the same thing on their Friday night.
Another huge similarity to the US is Sara’s love of all things princess. She has Disney princess mania even in excess of the same mania that possesses my own granddaughter, Guthrie. I do think they sell more Disney princess stuff here or maybe I just live a sheltered existence from Disneyl fever. Sara has princess Kleenex, hand wipes, phones, hand bag, shoes, floor mats dressing table, etc. Little girls are much the same everywhere thanks to mega-advertising and some great Disney movies. And, of course, Sara has a pink-i-licious room which would be the envy of any young girl.

We had a lazy morning with a big breakfast prepared by Keertan. It even included chicken sausages. My hosts are meat eaters and we shall have chicken curry tonight. Keertan is an excellent cook and made a wonderful vegetable scrambled egg dish that included fresh ginger. It gave it such a wonderful punch on the taste buds.

For our afternoon adventure, we went to the Dillihaat, which is pronounced Delhi heart. It has craftsman from all over India and food courts featuring food from all over India and the east. The pricing on items was reasonable and you could even bargain as well. I did manage to pick up two samples of the embroidered patchwork and a personal souvenir of a hanging fish. I have a few other small surprises and felt quite good about supporting cottage industries from all over India.
Both Devika and I are breathing easier in Delhi and it will be nice to have a few days to recoup from the fumes and sandstone dust of our earlier week days.

One of the most interesting environmental things India is doing is to discourage the use of plastic bags. They have actually banned certain sizes. So, when you shop or go to the market, you may find that your bag is a piece of cloth that has been re-purposed as a tote or it might even be newspapers that have been folded and a handle applied to turn it into a very nice shopping bag. The colors of the small fabric bags are too beautiful and it makes so much sense to use what you have instead of those awful plastic bags. It also provides work for small groups of people to make these unique creations.

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