Sikhs, Spices and Saris (Well, Tunics)

New Delhi Travel Blog

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Pancham took us to a southern Indian restaurant around the corner from the hotel for a Thali breakfast, then we got back on the metro to Chandni Chowk for a city walk. We went to the Jama Masjid mosque, where the ladies had to cover their heads with the scarves we brought, and put on the robes they provided. And no shoes...they will sell you slippers for 100 rupees. Then to a Sikh Temple where we left our shoes and socks in the visitors center, covered our heads with scarves again (guys included—the visitor center provided them and tied them on like do-rags), and were required to wash our hands and then walk through a trough of water in front of the temple before entering. I loved this experience...the worshippers were very welcoming, and we sat down in the back of the temple as the service was going on. There was no sermon, but there was music from a group of 3 guys playing harmoniums (like a sit-down accordion) and singing. It was a tall-ceilings room with a square platform altar at one end, and a fancy chandelier. We listened for awhile...people ambled in, sat down on the floor and seemed to pray by themselves. We then had a tour of the kitchen area, because they provide a free meal to all who come there—10,000 people a day. They had immense woks and vats on the fire, and then we went into the room where a team of women was making chowpattis in an assembly line...a low table for rolling them out (which they invited several of us to join them to help), and then the cooking area, where they threw them on the flat top with sticks, and then flipped them over to the open flame area where they puffed up. I thought we were supposed to eat lunch here, as the itinerary said, but for some reason, we didn’t stay, which was disappointing. I later heard that we needed to be there earlier in order to get the food.

We took a walk through the crowded spice market, and stopped in one of the shops that had spices and teas packaged for bringing back to foreign countries - I grabbed a couple of Darjeelings and Assam teas.

Back at the hotel, Morgan and I went to a different Thali restaurant, recommended by the hotel. The Thali we chose had so many dishes that were felt like a dessert buffet! Only 2 out of the 15 things were savory, well, 3 if you count the one that had that funky black salt with the sulfur smell. We just put that one aside.

After lunch, Mo rested, and I went out shopping with Rachel, Graham and Mary around the corner from the hotel, which was super fun. We were looking for long cotton tunics, and found a little shop where the very enthusiastic lady pulled all the plastic-wrapped tunics off of the shelf, took them out of their wrappings, and just generally made a huge mess on the floor. We tried on loads of them, and many of them were too small in the bust, so I needed help getting them back over my head and shoulders...which gave me the giggles. Mary was very helpful with her good eye for fashion, and Graham was cracking jokes and trying to bargain with the lady, but the only bargaining she was willing to do was if we were buying several items. Luckily, Mary bought one, I bought one, and Rachel bought two so we got maybe 10 percent off...mine only cost like $12USD. Then we went a few doors down and there was a chain store that had loads of cotton tunics for @ $7.50 each, so I bought 3 of those.

Morgan and I went to the rooftop restaurant on our (4th floor) of the hotel for drinks with Rachel. None of us were hungry for dinner, and they had beer but no cocktails, but they had the most fabulous mocktail had the most flowery descriptions of the sounded like a romance novel. I had to order one. The waiter arrived and I ordered, but alas, “No mocktails.” All that creative work someone spent on those descriptions for naught!
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photo by: spocklogic