Friday, October 29, 2004

Chandni Chowk – Unending Parathas and Alleyways (Part 3)

You are around still?? Good good, I have a story to tell and if you remember I had found my mother after losing her in the enormous crowds.

It was almost 3pm and we were famished. Partying till earlier today, we woke up too late to think of breakfast and needed nourishment before we collapsed. Sridevi was demanding to be fed immediately. So we went to the famous parathe-walli gali and sat down to have a few of the famous deep-fried parathas. They have the whole operations perfected amazingly – one guy chops the veggies, the other guy stuffs it into the dough, another flattens it to be fried, and another guy fries it till it’s unhealthy enough to give you several heart attacks.

As we lost track of what we had ordered and started having other people’s parathas as the little boy (barely 13 years old) announced them, it was as if life was being injected into our veins. A hearty glass of lassi topped the whole effect. One can’t have a Pepsi even if one tried – I don’t think they have heard of such a drink. How charmingly rustic, I thought. I was being the foreigner in my own city, in my own country!! It was all so new, so different…

Stomachs full, we decided to ignore the unhygienic conditions and found to our horror that the mother was running off into some alleyways. We thought we were going to head back onto the main road, mommy… that’s where the big shops would be, no? Apparently not. As we stumbled into step and found that the mother was in fact following some man who claimed he knew where the shop was. And what if he was just taking us around the galis to commit heinous crimes?? Delhi is an unsafe city people.. it’s a perfectly plausible situation! My mother is indeed courageous. We went through alleyways that only had the capacity to have two people stand in its width (preferably face to face so that there is some space in the middle).

Through corridors of other buildings and narrow lanes we finally reached a deserted shop where some fat men sat folding saris. Is this where I can find lehngas?? There are no women around to suggest it might be a preferred destination for such things….

To be continued (I promise I will end the story in the next one)…


Chandni Chowk – Losing ourselves (Part Deux with special appearance by Sridevi)

Remember where we left off – my mother had jumped off a nearly stationary car in a traffic jam without specific instructions about what we were to do.

This was obviously a trip that required some improvisation because our driver continued to drive as we lost a frantically waving mother in the crowd. So we also manage to get off the car in the middle of the traffic jam and dodging a tempo that was determined to not let our car go more than 7 inches away from its side. Rather the guardian tempo that was. Also the inconvenient tempo it was, as we found it difficult to open the door (well we could open the door, if you MUST be technical, but couldn’t get out).

Yes yes, finally we did manage to get out of the car leaving a clueless driver to manage through the traffic all by his lonesome. ‘Woh dekho, Sridevi’ (for my international readers – yes all 3 of you – that translates into “Look, Sridevi” who was a really really famous Indian movie starlet of the 1980s and early 1990s). Apparently my darling friend in her Gucci dark glasses, open flowing hair and super tight jeans and tee reminded a father of the goddess from yesteryear who had to point the same out to his son.

Meanwhile, my mother was refusing to pick up her cell phone. I don’t think I have ever been more grateful for mobile technology, when she finally did pick up her phone. What she told us had us wondering if we would ever be re-united with her again. She was in the middle of the road, it seems. In front of the Gurudwara… right… so she wishes to commit suicide before the abode of God. That does make sense (NOT).

Re and I clung to each other for dear life as people shoved us out of their way. The millions of pedestrians that were walking around were walking around not without determination to reach their unspecified destinations within that street that was Chandni Chowk that day. As we started walking ahead, hand in clutched hand, we spotted the mother waving frantically yet again. It was as if we had never lost her.

Wow, this is turning out to be a good story for a book… to be continued


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Chandni Chowk – Some History (The Prequel)

Fine, I decided to lift the history bit of Chandni Chowk from a dear friend’s blog. I know she wont mind, will you babe? *Sheepish (and I hope, irresistibly cute) smile*

".... Chandhini chowk is 350 year old trading centre that was originally built as an accompaniment to the Red fort. it was designed by Emperor Shahjahan's budding interiour designer daughter jahanara because nobody else would probably give her a job. A large chowk( Square) with a central pool was built was named after the moon "chandni" and called the moonlit square becaue the moon would shimmer in the pretty!! yes ...those were the days...soon after this area had water problems and jahanara's pretty pool transformed into a useful canal connecting the fort and fathehpuri mosque. it pretty much died a little later...but it can actually provide water to the whole of old delhi if put to good use..."

"Chandni chowk is in fact famous for its food...which can be traced back to the 17th century!!...there is a sweet shop that is 200 years old... Chandni chowk is in fact the birth place of chat...because when the canal was dying, it was the hot bed for disease which is why the emperor 's main physician at the time asked the local folks to have a lot of chilli stuff..with loads of herbs and so was born chat!!"


Chandni Chowk – Part Ek

Writing about our escapades (there is no better word to describe our adventures there) at Chandni Chowk is sure to take up a few posts. I could write it all in one post and lose my entire readership at one go. Instead, I have decided to prolong the pain and let you read a few posts before you decide you have had enough. Yes I know, rather thoughtful of me. I thought so too.

So in order to get the most perfect lehnga for what (I hope) will be one of the most perfect days of my life, we decided to embark on an epic (no really) journey to Chandni Chowk in Delhi. This is the old part of Delhi, the part we New Delhi people tend to forget about unless absolutely important – like getting to University campus, or buying wedding lehngas. Re gave a whole history in her own post, which to be honest I was amazed at. Not the history, dodo, the fact that she knew all that about my li’l ol’ home town. A darling of a friend of mine volunteered to come along for the whole adventure of it, without my having to beg her. This could be attributed to the fact that she is from London and unaware of the implications of going into the old part of any city in India.

Turns out we had landed there on the worst day possible. A tiny street in the name of a road was crowded with pedestrians, cycles, cycle rickshaws, more pedestrians, cars, tempos, cows, motor-cycles and for added effect – some more pedestrians. It was taking too long to get to the appropriate gali, so my courageous (and sometimes quite silly) mother got off the car without informing us of the plan of action thereafter.

To be continued…


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Incredible !ndia

I write this while I wait for my flight back to Bombay. Given how busy my social life is (NOT), I felt this might be the only time I will get at a stretch to write at peace. It also looks very cool and gives the impression that I could very well travel business class had it not been for the Santa Claus outfit I am wearing (bright red capris topped with a white and red shirt and red slippers for the unusually coordinated look).

The ‘inspiration’ for the topic line came from the big hoarding at the airport. Oddly, the picture on the board suggested NOTHING about India except a scantily clad Indian woman in various yogic postures with the hills behind her. Incredible, my arse! Whoever thought up the ad was obviously a very horny man and could not even think of one thing that could be uniquely India for the tourism advert except for highly un-distinct looking hills in the background of the sexy chick doing yoga. I almost missed those highly generic hills…

I have been in Delhi for 6 days now and think I have material enough for several hundred posts. It’s really crazy how many wide-ranging experiences this city has to offer ranging from awe to horror. Shopping for the impending (I am kidding Fido) wedding has been exhausting and so much fun. Stories from that will follow but right now I leave you with a hilarious bit about the Enclave where I live.

Just under our apartment is a little notice that screams – FLOWERS ARE PRETTY. DO NOT PLUCK THEM. Strangely, there are no flowers to be seen around the notice!! Is that a general admonishment to those who pluck flowers? I am not quite sure.. perhaps there were flowers around at some point of time there. All I saw was overgrown grass surrounded by fern. Maybe the fern was pretty for the person who put up the notice and he/she thought it was a mutant flower of some sort. Indeed theories about the reason for such a psychotic notice can be many (several of them I have posted here already).

More on the idiosyncrasies of Delhi later..


Thursday, October 21, 2004


So I had a meeting today all the way in the boon-docks of Mumbai and my boss came along for it. I think I should change the profile on my blog which is still giving the impression that I am in a city, that quite honestly, I am not in. If that makes any sense to you.

My boss, I have decided, is very entertaining. The journey to this clients office took an hour and we chatted along the whole way about life in Mumbai, real estate, movies, hitmen, philosophy. And I always thought the purpose of having a boss is so that someone is around to police the fact that you may have too much fun, if you were left to yourself. You know how they are - walking around your desk and giving disapproving looks should you happen to guffaw too loudly. Unfortunately for me, I guffaw quite often for seemingly un-hilarious things. As a result, I have been the receiver of a constant glare from each of the bosses I have had.

I think he has got the whole boss thing wrong, you know. He is actually a fun guy.. whoa!! I cant believe I said that of somebody who is in the role of a boss. Hmmm... I am suspicious about this. Maybe its the lack of sleep thats making me think this way.

Ah Delhi.. here I come..


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Been a while

Wow! Feels like forever since I last wrote something on my blog and suddenly it feels like I have lost the touch. My life is now a mediocre spectre for people to ignore. I want to be famous, I want to be rich. I didnt realise that my dreams required work. Dammit! So given how lazy I am, I decided mediocrity was it. No more waking up everyday with a smile on your face, ready to face the world in the hope of glory that will be attained some day. Today, I wake up to the idea that work is what pays the bills. Weekends are what I live for. And before I get even more depressing (as if that is possible right now), lets talk about the weekend.

The boyfriend was out of town this weekend which meant socialising would be done alone. Err... well the question that then arises is - if you are socialising, how are you alone?? Fair enough and I wont bother with mystical deep-rooted questions like that but head to the activities of this weekend. Saturday was pretty much a blur for the following reasons:

1. I had many many beers for many many hours on Friday night
2. Do we really need a second reason people?

On Friday I realised I dont think I fit in with any bunch of people that I go out with. In celebration (or mourning... I lost track of which after the 3rd beer), I decided to have beer. I was not alone in my plans, as it turned out. My colleagues decided to head out for beer and fries by 6.30pm which is decidedly early by any stretch of imagination - at least at my workplace. So we sit around and polish off a few pitchers of beer after which I head to the suburbs only to go out for more beer - this time with dinner. And if you are thinking that was the end, you are mistaken. Post dinner (and beer) we headed to a club for (say it with me now) more beer.

Naturally, I dont remember much of Saturday except for dessert with cranky cousins who are trying to lose weight (because you remember how it is when you are 15 and think the world looks so thin and you are soooo fat... wait a minute, I still feel like that 10 years later - and STOP calculating my age with those numbers people !! Aaargh!!). Sunday was the air show. The Indian Air Force flexed its muscles while sweet Iteeva, who is all of 2 years old, screamed "blue blue" as we watched the planes draw a heart in the air with blue smoke. Fabulous stuff darlings, you really had to be there.

Its a pity the weekend had to end, but I was glad because this time it meants a fabulous week ahead because Fido was headed back from the Ashram. As it turns, out I was right. The week is just into Tuesday and I am having a rollicking (this word has not been used since the 1930s Iin my estimate) time. Its always great to have the boyfriend around you know. Headed to Delhi day after tomorrow... watch this space!

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