Snapshots from Delhi

It’s our last night in Delhi. Tomorrow we are off on the next leg of our adventure, heading first west to the deserts and colorful cities in Rajasthan and then east to the icons of India in Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal and Varanasi.

It’s been such a gift to be able to stay with Ritu and her family all this time. Beyond being utterly spoiled by the entire household, it’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to have such a different experience of India, staying in one place for so long till we really started to get to know the neighborhood, being around for day-to-day life, eating home-cooked meals, tagging along on errands. Ritu and her family have been such gracious hosts and so generous with their time and insight-providing commentary on everything from national politics and Hindu mythology to shopping advice and our favorite recipes.

It’s been balm for my heart too to have time with Ritu. All the hours we spent chatting have been great for me, giving me perspective and insight. Ironically I’ve been giving her a lot of advice on situations she’s going through at the moment but all of it has been things applicable to my own experiences and that I would benefit from doing myself. Interesting. Let’s see if I can start taking my own advice! 😉 Either way, I’ll be leaving Delhi with a very full belly and heart.

In the mean time … Here are some little things I want to remember from this visit to Delhi.

  • The pleasantly astringent smell of marigolds at the Sai Baba temple
  • The incredibly intricate and delicate henna designs the men at the local market were creating on women’s hands for the holidays, and the distinct, slightly citrus smell of the oil rubbed on the skin before applying the henna
  • Fresh pomegranate juice at the Sai Juice Stand is sublime
  • As is sweet potato roasted at a street stand, cut up and served with lemon juice and plenty of masala and eaten with toothpicks
  • The incredible smile of the youngest son of the family who run an outdoor ironing business right outside Ritu’s house. He is such a little cutie and has the hugest, sweetest smile. The best was when we played a bit of soccer with him 🙂
  • The man lighting a lamp in a small shrine set on a wall behind his outdoor flower stand while we were buying roses for Shashi
  • The funny, puffy man sitting like some sort of barefoot, Pillsbury dough boy buddha on a table at the Bengali Sweets shop. Balding, bespectacled, round and all in white he never moved from his spot the whole time we were there but just sat there organizing a huge, and I mean huge, wad of money
  • The distinct, nasal voices (kind of like auctioneers in slow motion) in which men call out their wares and prices outside as they push their carts down the street that runs along our window or at the chaotic marketplaces
  • The delicate flavor and texture of the simple but totally delicious chapatis made in Ritu’s home, and how good they are when they are still piping hot from the griddle
  • Being able to laugh with the women working in house, despite not speaking the same language
  • Some huge, heartfelt hugs with Ritu, and the moments I realized that we were both learning the same lessons, even if they are taking different shapes in both our lives
  • Daily ‘coffee dates’ at the local Café Coffee Day with Roman
  • The half friendly, half rude manager at the Gupta Brothers’ electronics store where we spent a lot of time in the process of fixing Ritu’s laptop; especially how he hung out in his little shop in his socks, and times we’d arrive just after puja and the place would be stuffy with too much incense
  • The elegant and expressive way Shashi speaks with her hands, especially when arguing with someone over prices
  • The gentle touch of Shashi’s fingers as she gave me a blessing during Diwali

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