March 15-17- Journey Home via Delhi
Driving from rishikesh to delhi by taxi, for the first time in the day time. In March….
It is hot, the windows are open (no AC), it is dusty, I am dirty, I am sweaty, and the trip despite the new “super highway”, (every type of vehicle known in India can be found on this road and you can see them on the facebook LINK: Aside from the poor condition of most of the roads, these vehicles are probably the main reason why a 250 km journey takes AT LEAST 5 hours and can be as long as 7. If you hit top speed, about 80 kph, you might travel like that for 5 minutes at a time. Average speed is between 40-60 kph for most of the journey
vehicles on super highway
is interminable – I am tired. We just stopped at cheetal (more later or in another post),
Cheetal Rest Stop
but for the first time since arriving in India, I FEEL like I am in India…
I left Rishikesh this morning after saying a sad goodbye to my dear friends here,
Me with Seema and Ashish
but God willing, we will see each other again next year. And then, into a taxi for the journey to another friend’s house in Delhi.
Actually, I am sitting in the taxi trying to make the time pass, and I am connected to the Internet with my netstik! This is really cool!! On the one hand, at night, I doze on and off and the time goes by. On the other hand, traveling during the day, despite it being more difficult, lets me see sights I would not see while traveling at night. As usual, you can see all the photos on the facebook link:
(there will be several different photo links in this post, so check them all out if you feel like it!)
We finally made it to Delhi, and then the driver, despite speaking to my friend on the phone several times, still spent 1 ½ hours being lost!
By the time I got where I had to be, I was beyond tired, hot and dirty! But arriving here, was like being given an injection of “new life”.
I absolutely cannot describe to you what my friend calls her “farm house”. It is an enormous estate owned by a billionaire Dutch business family, and it is well beyond anything I could ever imagine. . Twenty two gardeners are needed on a daily basis just to take care of the grounds! I have taken some photos, but know that this will also not give justice to this paradise located in South Delhi, in an area called Dera Mandi. It could be anywhere in the world, and would still be beyond anything I could describe.
Main House on Estate
- Sunset over Estate
I was first given the grand tour of both the vegetable gardens, (see photos on Face book LINK:)
and then the estate, and then went back to shower and “make myself human” again. After that, I was given an early dinner (as my hosts did not eat until well after 9 PM and I really had to get to sleep. I was served a wonderful, simple meal, all directly from the gardens, and am sure I will forget something, but it included first of all, a lovely vegetable salad of sliced veggies, some partially cooked to make them edible (like the potatoes), and others just fresh: 3 kinds of sweet peppers, beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, very tiny potatoes, sweet peas, tomatoes, and more which I don’t remember..;.should have taken a photo but I was too tired by then to care about anything but eating and going to sleep.
I was then served delicious palak paneer (spinach – from the garden and Indian homemade cheese), wonderful dahl full of fresh coriander and fenugreek and parsley, chapattis also made with fresh herbs in the dough and covered in homemade ghee, and a delicious veggie dish of cabbage and sweet peas gently cooked together in ghee. Rice of course (curiously made in the microwave) …it was sublime.
I went to sleep shortly after and to my surprise slept a full 12 hours! Luckily I have my earplugs, because if I didn’t, the horrible squawking sounds of the peacocks would have kept me awake all night I think! I guess their beauty ends with their colorful feathers…
Peacock on Estate's Tennis Court
Woke this morning to a warm day, and now sit waiting for my friend to finish work so we can go into delhi for the afternoon.
I was served a breakfast of papaya (from their own trees), fresh coconut milk and the thinnest, most amazing stuffed potato (aloo) parantha I have EVER been served anywhere.
I know this day out in delhi will be exhausting, but it will also be fun being in town with my local friend, rather than as a tourist. And I will still have time to rest before my flight…I have to be at the airport at 3 in the morning so will be leaving here at 1:30 AM.
More later I guess.
It is now 10 days later, to my dismay, but finally have gotten back to this. My arrival home precluded my doing anything as “trivial” as blogging, but I am hoping that I will remember everything I wanted to write about the day in Delhi and the trip home.
We left for the city in her SUV vehicle with driver, which was a great luxury as she didn’t have to worry about parking every time we stopped someplace, or she wanted me to look at something along the way. It was also air conditioned and truth be told, was TOO cold for me!!
She lives in South delhi and while driving into the city we past the CChatapurTemple which was amazingly beautiful but closed, so I could only see it from outside.
Chatapur Temple Delhi
Me and Hanuman from Outside the Closed Temple
Hanuman The Monkey God Chatapur Temple Delhi
Vedic Aymbol Chatapur Temple
She finally decided that my first stop, before she did her shopping, would be a local mega mall, which had just opened up a new section which even she hadn’t seen. She is a shopaholic and her greatest pleasure is “shop until you drop”. . IT is really not my thing but I couldn’t disappoint her, gracious hostess that she was (I have one daughter who would LOVE to spend a day with her!!).
Sitting area inside Mall
The changes in India are felt even more so in the cities, and Delhi is THE city to see change. The cars are one example. Up until a couple of years ago one saw old cars and many many Ambassador cars on the road. Now you have to really search to find an Ambassador, and the road is full of every type of new car you can imagine…Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus,Honda Civic, BMW, Mercedes, Chevrolet, and assorted chauffered cars where the drivers hold umbrellas open for the madam so the sun won’t get on her face. The streets are clean, the roads improved, but still congested and Indian “rules of the road” still apply! The busses are all new, European models, low to the ground for easy access, digital signs proclaiming destinations, AC of course and quite lovely to see. The bus stops are also clean and neat. And then everywhere, you see the Metro running. The stations, at least from my viewpoint below, look beautiful, with large parking lots full of cars. I have not had the opportunity of riding the metro yet.
The Mall was everything a Mall should be and more, and this was, I was told, the SMALLEST of the malls in Delhi. Please see the next post which will be entirely about my impressions from the Mall. It is worth a separate post and gives further insights into the changing as well as traditional aspects of life in India. But for now you can see photos at this LINK:
We finished there, back to the driver and then my friend took care of her own business. Some of it personal, some of it as estate manager (which is the reason she lives in her house on the estate!). To purchase flowers for the main house, we went to the flower market which was beautiful, but many people forbade me from taking pictures of their wares – don’t know why, but THIS PHOTO will give you some idea of how beautiful it was. You can again, see lots more on the facebook LINK
View of Flower Market
Back home, again, dinner by myself which was uncomfortable, but necessary so I could sleep for a few hours before leaving for my flight.
Because of this rest, and good food, before flying home, my flight home was probably the easiest I’ve ever had and I really was blessed to be able to do it this way
The new departure lounge is everything a modern international airport should be, and more, but once again, I did not take photos. If you want to see it, you will have to come to India!!
From the plane I saw my LAST SUNRISE over India for this trip….
Last Sunrise Over India from Plane
I’m going to end this here so that I can begin posting it in the hope that it will finally reach you.
I had thought to write about the Cheetal Rest Stop as well, with it’s amazing flowers which change with the seasons, but I will simply post the photos on facebook as well and let you see for yourself.
Cheetal Flower Photo Link – worth viewing:
Too bad this is now off the main highway, and not easy to reach. Don’t think I will be making this stop in the future. It adds a good ½ hour onto the travel time between delhi and rishikesh, and as beautiful as it may be, and as tasty as the food is, and as clean as the toilets are, when I am traveling that many hours, I would prefer not adding that extra time .
It has been a wonderful journey, and being home now, makes me appreciate it even more. I am happy to be where I am now, but am grateful for the few months of personal time I was so lovingly given. I am truly blessed!