Tuesday, April 3, 2012

incredibly, India: Day 4

A sari shopper
My last and final day in India. Did you get tired just from reading about all the things we packed into four short days? I got a little tired just writing it all out. But, I didn't want to forget about anything and I wanted to give you a pretty complete picture.

A couple days on the road, filled with walking, seeing, shopping and taking many pictures eventually caught up with us a little, and we slept in on the morning of the fourth day. Originally, Anu wanted to take us to the Lotus Temple and to Chandni Chowk, but we ended up cutting out the Temple and Nikka and Anu took a little more time to do that on Nikka's extra day.

We took our time in the morning, then the three of us and Anusree's mom headed to the subway station to go into the city. The subway car filled up quickly and we had a great time, talking about arranged marriages and her mom's experiences in the world of design and fashion.

Eventually we got to our stop in Old Delhi, and walked around for a bit. Anu's mama was looking for a particular sari designer that she had either known before or bought from before.
Exclusive designs! No plagiarism, got it?
Sari storage
Much like in China how there are people waiting for you when you get out of the subway stop advertising their wares and products, there were people waiting for us when we got off too. But, we had to follow them to their shops (also like in China). I guess carrying designer saris around just isn't done. So, we followed a young man who seemed to know the shop we were looking for through a couple allies and stepped into this little two story store front. To view the saris, we took off our shoes as we went up to the second floor. The floor was padded and covered with a white cotton-like fabric. I suppose this helped to keep things clean as well as provide a place to display the sari designs.

The colors were so rich and vibrant. I felt like my eyes were being dazzled and overwhelmed by the intensity of the colors. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of a piece they pulled to show us. The beading and designs are unique to each designer, so after I took that picture, they asked me not to take pictures of an actual piece, though I was welcome to take pictures of the pieces that were folded and stored on the open shelves.

A woman trying on saris

The beading of the sari is done on a sheer piece of fabric and then when the piece is purchased, they cut out the design and sew it onto a backing to fit the client.
One of the alleys

Anu and her mom didn't buy anything right then, so after we were done, we went looking for some jewelry makers. Chandni Chowk has a main street with alleys branching off of it. Each alley generally has a specialty-- saris, jewelry, paper, etc. I was looking for a particular gift. I had seen silver plated versions but wanted a full silver version. It took a while to find what I was looking for because the piece I had seen was actually Rajasthani in design and they didn't have the same thing in Delhi.

Eventually I found something similar, and made my purchase. They were going to oxidize it for me, so we had to come back to get it. While waiting, we went to this shop that was well known for it's food (EEP! Street Food! Huzzah!). I was pretty excited. Both Anu and her mom said that they would have never have come to this place if we had not been there, and that they were surprised that we were willing to eat street food. This is where I shrugged in response. I didn't really know any better. Street food has always been the best in my experience, and so I was excited to try this food. We ordered bread that was fried and they came with different curries (I don't know that they're actually called curries, but that's as close a definition as I can come up with in my limited Indian vocabulary). Anu wouldn't let us eat anything that hadn't been cooked, so that narrowed our options a little, but it was still delicious. What was interesting to me, was that it seemed as though were were buying the bread and the curries came as a side. And we could have more of the curries if we just asked, but had to purchase more bread if we finished it.

Anu and Mama G. Cue "awww"

Our food. We were allowed to eat the top middle section and the two curries in the same section as the bread.
Yay! We're honorary locals!
After we ate and were declared honorary locals, we split off from Mama G (Anu's mom. I'm leaving off the rest of their surname for privacy's sake) and went to find the Red Fort. We had trouble getting transportation because apparently we weren't worth the short distance...even though they were already going in that direction (insert confused expression here). Oh well. We eventually found a ride and got to the Fort.

We saw another tourist with a fancy camera taking video and pictures and offered to take a photo for him. Then he kindly offered to do the same. We thanked him after he took the picture. Then I looked at the photos he had taken. They were blurry. And he had cut out the Fort! I was so stunned. I thought since he had a dslr he would have known how to use mine, but apparently I shouldn't have made that assumption. I was bummed we didn't get a good picture in front of the fort, but that's ok, we got the gist of it.

This is the picture. I don't think anything is in focus. I'm actually a little confused about how he was able to get everything blurry.
We went in and walked around, and again I was struck by the intricate details, not just in the structures themselves, but in the detailing and latticework. A lot of it had fallen into disrepair and I wondered if there wasn't some university or museum that knew about this-- I feel like there would be a lot of historical art experts who would love to be a part of restoring these places.

Red Fort, Old Delhi

Red Fort, Old Delhi

We didn't have too long here, so Nikka and I made a few more purchases, then we went on our way. We got back on the subway and headed back to Anu's house. On the way, we picked up a henna artist since Nikka and I were getting henna'ed up. Nikka went first so I could pack up my luggage before my hands became incapacitated.

Henna and masala chai. What more could a girl ask for?

I swapped some photos with Nikka since Anu didn't carry a camera and then we sat around drinking masala chai and eating biscuits until we couldn't because our hands had to dry. Then we got straws and Anu fed us. Quality bonding time. You should try it.
Pretty. And temporary. Nice.

Before we knew it, it was time go. We loaded up my luggage and headed out. We stopped for some dinner and then finally drove to the airport. I dislike goodbyes. They're awkward and don't give me fuzzy feelings. I also feel awkward walking away from hugging someone goodbye and having tears running down my face. It feels like everyone is looking at you and wondering why you're crying. Throw in the whole "white girl in India" bit and I was a textbook spectacle.

I was able to contain myself until I was past security, but I definitely felt bereft. These are two of my best friends. We have the shared experience of having gone to school together internationally and have the history of having gone through rough stuff together. In short, we know each other pretty well and we've known each other for a long time (for TCK standards- to read about what TCK means, go here). I don't know when we will next see each other, but I hope it is sooner rather than later.

My flight was at about midnight, so I slept some on the plane. I don't sleep my best in a sitting up position, so I woke up a couple of times. At one point, I lifted my window and saw the most amazing colors shining back at me. It was reassuring to see this beautiful creation and know that its Creator had and has everything under control, even when  I'm sad.

And that, my friends, was my trip to India. I spent one day in Singapore before flying back Stateside, trying to meet up with a couple friends and then spending time with family (doing what else, eating, of course), and it was delightful.

I might post one more entry on India, just summarizing my thoughts and including my favorites. Maybe that'll be the abbreviated version of this very long retelling of my adventure.

Until next time, let me know what you think! What was your favorite part of this trip? What would you have added or taken away from your itinerary? Anyone else love henna?


  1. I love trying t'be th'first to catch your 'latest photographic, journalistic' edition 'hot off th'press'! I'm amazed that you were able to see so much and be in so many different places... with minimal 'bent-out-of-shape' experiences. Maybe it's because of who you were with - your very best-of-th'-best-est of friends :) As your dad, I guess I'm amazed at how little you were concerned or worried about safety.. meaning your Father had you in th'palm of His hand throughout. I liked the foods and some of the people you met and interacted with. I'm glad you were able to spend precious time with your best friends, knowing full-well that the minute you stepped off the plane when you arrived, your time with them was 'running out'. Eventhough you may had shed a few tears at the airport on departure (at the thought of leaving them), you could also be thankful that you had this special, precious 'moment' of 3-4 days of your life to renew your bonds and kindred spirits for each other. Thanks for sharing your life with us :)

  2. I love the last picture! is that d cloud 'bridge' or the 'runway' to d SON ?
    Any more pics of Ur 'tatooed' palms?
    D tourist must b stunned by d 3 beauties standing infront of him :D
    OOOOOh, u have 2 make me wait 4 my surprise/gifh huh... torturing,
    Love You, Mom