Wednesday, 22 December 2010





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The Mishra Dairy, Mumbai

Does the importance of fresh milk in the diet of Indians explain the sacredness of the cow? I came across the Mishra Dairy in a side street near my hotel in the major commercial district of Fort in South Bombay. It was the smell I noticed first. Then the man who was eating - what, paneer? His skin the very epitome of good health and abundant vitality. Is this the 'home' of the cows wandering the streets around here? People come by with their empty milk cans, get them filled from one of the large pitchers. Fresh lassi? How much fresher is it going to be anywhere else? And Chaas? A masala (spicy) buttermilk drink, tempered by being sprinkled with fried mustard seeds. Here's a recipe. Said to be a summer cooling drink that goes well with a meal. The asafetida and ginger in it aid digestion.

Taj Mahal

There was a light misty rain on the afternoon we visited the Taj Mahal. It didn't matter, in fact I loved the whiteness of the sky.

I was crouching to take one of those photos with the reflection in the water, when a man approached me and began instructing me on where to put my camera. I ignored him a while, until in a slightly offended tone he assured me OK, I guide, I just help. Once I looked in his direction I was hooked. He made me pose here, there. Just one more madam, very beautiful photo, come, come. See, you see? Very good, very lovely; you come madam, here. Here. Now one more madam, here.

Of course once I insisted on taking my camera back off him, it was, Rupees, Madam, you give rupees. I insisted I had no small change. He insisted I pay him. I began to walk off, he followed. Not good madam, rupees, very good photos I take, you give rupees. I'm sad to admit that on this occasion I continued walking. He had deliberately misled me. If there had been some sort of contract up front...but mostly I was annoyed at myself for being taken in by him in the first place.

Still, he was right, they ARE lovely photos. I should have given him something.


I vow never to buy any black clothes ever again!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Indian sweets

In Jaipur I watched these girls buying sweets. Barfi, Gulab jamun... I really wanted to try some too.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Mehrangarh Fort and Museum

The fort dominates the city of Jodpur. Now a Museum run by the family of the current Mararajah, Mehrangarh is slowly being preserved and restored. It has the only museum shop we saw on the trip, and I wish I left a bit more time to shop.

This beautiful room was the private sanctuary of the thirty-second Maharaja. He died in 1873 and was the last to actually live in Mehrangarh…
It was during Takhat Singh’s reign that the British came to dominate India. And in this bedroom, which was also used to entertain, we see Christmas balls hanging from the wooden rafters.
Unrelated images cover every inch of the walls. Paintings of European women mingle with traditional love stories, Hindu Gods and Goddesses… Even the floor is painted… On hot breezeless nights an attendant, the ubiquitous ‘Punkah-Wallah’ pulled the hand-drawn fan above the bed…

Friday, 10 December 2010

Delhi walli

When I say I feel like a real Delhi Walla, Uttam corrects me. Walla is for men, what I should have said is, I'm becoming a Delhi walli.

I visited Uttam's flat in a Delhi suburb for afternoon tea. I took the subway, met him at Dilli Haat where we walked around and looked at some of the handicrafts, and then we went by auto rickshaw to his place. Later he put me into a rickshaw to get back to the metro. That experience was a glimpse into the way people live in this city. Earlier I had walked around Connaught Place and found an "opticals" shop where I ordered three pairs of glasses which would be ready for me to collect the next day.

How many times was I approached with a polite "ma'am, you are coming from which country?" Invariably that led to me being told India had won the test match here in Delhi.

On the Metro, the first two carriages are reserved for women only. A great system, especially when the carriages were so crowded that I had to carry my handbag under my neck for lack of space to keep it under my arm.

Now I'm going to go backwards and do some posts about some of the things I saw on the Intrepid trip through Rajastahn. Most places we stayed lacked internet access, and anyway, I had better things to be doing anyway.