8.5 hour flight from London Heathrow to Mumbai International Airport. After a 5 hour delay in Mumbai spent in the Jet Airways VIP Lounge drinking and eating what ever we wanted (which wasn’t much), we finally boarded our connecting 2 hour flight to Delhi. Karan met us at the airport with a car and driver he’d hired. 23 hours after leaving our ex-home at Hollybush St in London, we pulled into our new home for the next few weeks in Gurgaon, 1 hour south of central Delhi. After rounds of hugs and kisses we were presented with the famous mama Sweety’s butter chicken. Karan had been talking this dish up for years, and it was as good as he’d promised it would be. She also made paneer (cottage cheese) saag and green tikka chicken with freshly made parathas.
We were staying at Karan’s sister, Meeto’s house with her husband Aman, their son Oshwin, his mother Sweety, his other sister Silvie and her son Jasmahal and his cousin Pearl had also come to meet us.
The next morning we were up at 10.30 for a cold shower and breakfast. Sweety mum had been up preparing puri (a thin pancake that steams out like a balloon in the pan) with a yellow lentil curry and prashard (a sweet sticky mush that was really nice). Such a heavy breakfast for us as we had been stressing, drinking and packing without really eating for about 5 days!
After breaky we hired a car and driver for the day and first went shopping at a nearby mall so buy to ethnic clothes so we could try to blend with the locals a little. Chris got a kota, which is a long leave, loose fitting shirt, and a pair of long pants. In malls, things are not really that cheap. We went into a gift shop and the prices were similar to London prices, but Gurgaon is the richer, business area so I suppose people can afford it there.
Chris, Karan and Emily left the sisters at the mall and we decided to go for lunch at Vasant Vihar at a restaurant called Punjabi by Nature which is famous for it’s Punjabi and North Indian cusine. Karan ordered for us as we still weren’t sure what was what, we had dhal makhani, galooti kebab, malai chicken kofta, paneer pakora, butter naam bread…we ate until we felt too sick to eat anymore! After this we went to Dili haat, a popular touristy market that you have to pay 20Rs to get in, but it keeps the beggars out. Here we bought a lacquer vase with silver and zinc hand embossed designs and a cute cloth elephant mobile.
After this we went to an area called GK where I got a short and long sleaved and length kolti (woman’s version of the kota), and a pair of tights. Our huge day of shopping had left us tired and thirsty so we went to Café Coffee Day, the first western style coffee shop in India which is now a big chain. Chris fell in love instantly and this was the beginning of a beautiful relationship and constant excited sightings of the little red logo! Our driver then took us home. It was 600Rs for the whole day, and he took us where ever we wanted and waited by the car for as long as we wanted. We felt bad for him at lunchtime and slipped him 50Rs so he could get himself something to eat. All drivers in India are lunatics and they cannot got more than 10m without beeping the horn and pulling out in front of oncoming traffic!
Even though we had eating enough food to feed a small nation, they had prepared dinner for us at home. A chicken and a lamb biryani…which was too good to pass up. A couple of Karan’s mates came over to meet us, but we were too tired and full to go out with them so we just sat in the lounge and had a chat.
Saturday we went to Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, the largest Sikh temple. You have to put your shoes in a locker and cover your head, they have a basket of bandannas there if you don’t have your own. The temple and area is mostly made of white marble and has big gold onion shaped domes and a huge pool that I guess is full of holy water that people can dip in. Inside is an alter that you have to put a donation into and a man reads from a book and there is another man who has what looks like a big feather duster and he swings it around. There is also a big community area where free food is given out. We also saw Delhi Gate.
On Sunday was the celebration / ceremony at the house , it was like a house warming / blessing. We had to got and get some supplies from the sweets store and a altar from the temple. Everone that came over was dressed in traditional clothing and all sat in a circle while the guru / priest chanted blessings and sang songs of prayer. That night pearl went home with he parents.