Friday, March 27, 2009

India bit 8: Talking, eating, shopping for the planet

My beloved aunt and uncle have arrived from Chennai early this morning, braving two nights on the train just to come and hang around with us and celebrate my mother and the Nik’s forthcoming birthdays. I am the recipient of many a goodie thanks to 40in2006, whom I saw in December. My mother is the recipient of goodies made by her delightful daughters, my beloved nieces (a knitted scarf and two handkerchiefs: one glitter painted, the second embroidered). Despite my haul of serious loot I am jealous – can I count on a scarf for my 40th D??

We spend the morning just relaxing and chatting at home, all of us talking nineteen to the dozen, the speciality of our race. Then we decide to check out one of the new Malls built in our vicinity and its food court. There are only a few shops open as yet – recession or delays nobody knows. Notably I go and have a stare at the windows of Tantra and admire the slogan-y T-shirts. I remember them from years ago when they retailed in limited designs and sizes at Shoppers Stop and their smart witty slogans seemed so much funnier to my less corrupt brain. Their much worn ‘over-educated, under employed’ T-shirt is still my gym/ sleep favourite.

For lunch we are sitting under fake palm trees and on outdoor furniture in the covered atrium. It is bright and light and for a weekday, very full. Clearly people have all the time and money to spend on food on a weekday. Everybody chose something different and the Nik (being the youngest and most pliant) ran around organising both food and drinks while we continued talking. I had a divine plate of chole bhature from the Haldirams stall – something that I have said I would have on every trip and not managed in at least the last four. North Indian chole bhature is so different from the equivalent in the south. This bhatura is oval shaped and its thick doughy walls hold in the air beautifully, much like an inflated rugby ball. The chole is dark and tangy, its thick gravy coating each chickpea. I’m not sure why I am describing the whole chole bhature incident, just that I was so delighted with this simple meal that I cannot help but want to write what it was that made me smile so broadly.

Then we split up into groups – the boys went wandering in the adjacent mall while the girls drove off to Fab India. I bought a few pieces from their new jewelry line and some household accessories (yet more stuff I DO NOT NEED) to carry back with me. A short trip home to deposit the bags of shopping, leave my aunt to entertain a guest and to collect the Nik. Now it’s the turn of some serious shopping – my childhood haunt Fact and Fiction and the basement Om Bookshop in Vasant Vihar are my temples. I buy 23 books to add to the 5 I bought from Khan Market’s Bahri. It’s a good thing I have an empty suitcase and have not done very much by way of actual bulky shopping.

We spend the evening at home, ordering in kebabs, butter chicken, roomali’s and naans’s and some delightful malai kofta’s (for me and only me!) and talking our way through them. And then we play rounds of cards at the dining table, which I am thankful had no money attached as I lost very very badly.

I try and do some cursory packing before bedtime. All my books fit beautifully. I cannot believe that my week is almost at its end. I haven’t had such a peaceful, relaxed, good time in too long. I must have done something right for it all to have gone so right.

Food Courts: Every Mall in the NCR it would seem
Chole: chickpeas cooked in a tangy tamarind based sauce
Bhature: Companion deep fried bread to mop up the chole. Deep fried refined flower (the tastiest heart attack on a plate)
Malai kofta: soft paneer and vegetable balls, deep fried and immersed in a smooth silky tomato cream gravy flavoured with cashew nuts


  1. OOoh I am just nodding my head in agreement to everything - the Tantra T-Shirts (I did think they were the cat's meow when they first came out.) and about N.Indian chole being better than S.Indian chole.

    Lovely post!

  2. I'm so JEALOUS of your lovely trip! I've been wanting to visit Delhi for the longest time... it's been YEARS! Glad you had such a great time.

    PS. I'm making a list of all the eateries you visited :)

  3. Tantra!!! I had an Om tshirt once... so are you still planning on that take whatever book you want box? :)

  4. Me: Thanks!

    Shyam: Don't be jealous - just go! Make a list and then when you do plan on going I will be more than happy to update/ prioritise for you!

    Menaka: You missed the 'take a book from the ones I no longer want' pile. No other box available - and no lending!