Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Walk in the Park - Lodhi "Bakery"

Linda at Sikander Lodhi's Tomb - Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi

While it sounded like a fun idea, last Sunday it was my idea to go for a walk in Lodhi Gardens..........and while it was nice.......the temperature was about a GAZILLION degrees......OK.......I am exaggerating maybe just a little!

But it is a very dry heat......

Lodhi Gardens - Flowers

Not that I was keeping up with the temperature.........but I heard from a friend of ours that last week in Delhi, the temperature reached 107 one day.

Tis the season.......Spring lasted about .....2 days...........and we went right into summer!

But I'm not complaining......just trying to share the experience with you....and for those of you who are not here in is what you should do.

Architectural Details....

Back in the US.....why don't you heat up the oven, MAYBE BAKE SOME COOKIES.....that's a great crank up the oven to "baking" temperature......your dial may have numbers and hash marks, 300 - 325 - 350, etc.....the ovens over here in India....have April, May, June, July.

Interesting Man

So if you are "BAKING COOKIES".....the oven setting is like halfway between April and May...

Now....once the oven is at the perfect temperature......and you are about to put your cookies in to the door, and put your face near the opening.....welcome to Delhi!

Linda and Me @ Sikander Lodhi's Tomb

But we weren't the only people out enjoying Lodhi Gardens.........there were many....the heat was bearable in the shade and inside the various tombs and buildings that are scattered throughout the park.....

Stone Carved Walls of a Mosque

And I am just teasing about the heat......but I am serious about "baking cookies"! Try it!

Enjoy the photographs!

Ceiling inside of the Dome

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Seven Cities - What's "NEW"?????

Playing for the Crowd

Definition: Not before seen or known, although existing before; lately manifested; recently discovered; as, a new metal; a new planet; new scenes.

While this is the "clinical" definition of the word.......the word "new" has meanings and connotations that are personal to each of us. For some of us.....just hearing the word gives a sense of "excitement" some it is an excuse to replace something "old" those pilgrims landing in an undiscovered land, they were able to use the word to give association to someplace they left behind....a la (New York, New Orleans, New Mexico, Nuevo Laredo.....and on and on).....but....

I also remember "NEW COKE".....which got old very fast!

However, when you combine "New" + "Delhi".....there some was only fitting that after seven different cities were built that someone finally had to give it a name more fitting of the times......

The beauty of NEW that everything that makes it so unique and exciting rests in the history that reminds you of the yesteryears.......well.....the yester....yester.....yester....yester...yester...yester YEARS......YEP...that many!

Just the other day, I had my second visit to Purana Quila, this time as a guest of Linda's - Seven Cities Tour Group.....if you remember from my earlier blog entry on Purana Quila......there were inhabitants on the very site we visited dating back to 2400 years before Christ.

Prayer Rugs in Mosque

Now back to Seven Cities, and the unique group that tours the Seven distinct cities that had risen and fell in and around what is now known as the NCR (National Capital Region) that's a name that you would hope never "sticks"......

There are approximately 28 participants that make up a group.......and then they are broken into "sub-groups" and assigned a city to research, study and then make a presentation to the other members of the group......when I first heard about the offering of such a tour, I wanted to attend, but my schedule never would allow such a Preston and I decided we would embark on our own Seven Cities exploration.....

For newcomers to the area........I highly recommend joining the Seven Cities Group, either in the Spring or is a great way to meet new people and learn about the exciting city you are living in.....NEW DELHI.....and it's predecessors will certainly open your eyes to the rich and exciting history that surrounds you!

Linda's group had the Mehrauli area, which included Qutub Minar.....which was the first city of the I included some of the photographs that she took of her group making their presentation.....and I also included some new one of Purana Quila.....see my first blog entry if you are interested in the history of the area.

Happy exploring!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brush Strokes - our own festival of color....... inside

Welcome ....Our Front Door (outside)

Color is the most important element of India. From bright colorful clothes to beautiful and creative paintings, pottery and handicrafts. From mouth watering Indian cuisines to the seasons and festivals, it all reflects the distinctive and rich culture and colorful spirit of the people of India.

Our TV/Computer Room

Color is everywhere.........the vivid colors capture your attention from the moment you land and hold tight to your senses until the moment you me when I tell you that after spending time in India, one of the first differences you will notice when you return home, wherever that may be, is how monotone things are! I experience it when I return to the US......

Same room Different Wall....Different Color!

For the devout Hindu, colors play a very important role in their religion and culture and have a very deep significance in the way they are used in their lives. Color plays such an important role it is more that a fashion statement and color transcends purely decorative value. Hindu art is filled with color, and should the painting be of a deity or god, the artist will surely use specific colors to represent certain qualities and character traits of the god. Color is also plays an important role in the creation of ones environment, so color is chosen carefully to ensure that a person is always cheerful and relaxed. Religious ceremonies include the colors of red, yellow, green and white.

The Colors of Preston's Room

Red - Red is perhaps one of the most widely used colors, and is typically found used on the most auspicious of occasions; marriages, birth of a child, festivals, etc. Those in attendance at a religious ceremony will usually have a red mark placed on their forehead.

Saffron - Saffron represents fire and since fire is the destroyer of impurities, saffron is sometimes equated with purity itself. It is also the color of holy men, but yet has found it's place on the battlefield as well, as it is the battle color of the Rajput, or warrior caste.

Blue - Blue symbolizes the qualities of bravery, manliness, determination and the ability to deal with very tense and stressful situations. Blue represents a stable mind and a person with a depth of character. It is found in the color of the sky, the oceans, the rivers and is the color of nature.

Currently Valley of the Stars.....soon to be Indian Copper

Green - Another color that represents nature is the color green, but, green is also the color of peace and happiness and is used widely to calm the mind.

White - White is symbolic of knowledge, cleanliness, purity and is the color of the lotus flower who's use is woven throughout the culture of the society.

Yellow - Yellow is the color of happiness, joy, peace, and meditation. It is also seen as the color of spring.....and like spring which brings an awakening of nature, yellow is seen to also represent knowledge, learning and mental development.

Phewwwwwwwwww........have you ever given much thought to colors other than perhaps having a favorite?

Dining Room

Spring not only ushered the annual Festival of Colors - Holi, but it also motivated Linda in some way to bring the colors of India inside our home.........while I was traveling, she was busy organizing a work crew and choosing colors.

After being gone a few days, I would return home to find our formerly paste white walls donning such colors as "Burnt Brick"......."Gilded"......"Indian Copper"......"Ra Gold"......"Nanette"....."Copper Leaf"....."Arizona Sun"...."Indian Spice"....."Balsam"..."Wedgewood"...."Valley of the Stars"....."Burnished Gold"...."Great Canyon" and the one that sounds like you could taste it....."Applesauce Cake".

Dining Room and Foyer in distance

At home in the US........I was the of the benefits of living in India is that skilled painters are not only available, but affordable as well.........

So for those of you who can only make a virtual visit to our home, here are a few pictures of the how the inside of our house has come to life with the colors of India.....

Looking from the Dining Room into the Foyer (front Door)

Ram Navami - an unexpected surprise!

The last three weeks have been grueling......a tremendous amount of traveling, meetings of various sorts, some good, some bad, some ugly!

On Sunday night at approximately 8pm I discovered on a phone call that my presence was required down in Jaipur to meet an important client; a day earlier than I was up very early catching a plane.

Tuesday...the day I was originally expected was for a scheduled meeting with the owners of the of late I have been out of the office more than in it......which I don't mind......but

When I received the email yesterday announcing that we had a HOLIDAY on Wednesday for Ram Navami.........I was not going to complain.

So.......what is Ram Navami? It's the birthday of Lord Ram......

Ram Navami is a popular Hindu festival. It is celebrated on the ninth day (Navami) of the Chaitra month of Hindu lunar year in 'Shukla paksha' or waxing moon. This festival is celebrated in order to commemorate the birth of Marayada Purshottam Ram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This day also known as Sri Rama Navami, marks the end of nine-day Chaitra-Navratri celebrations. The festival of Ram Navami is held in high regard not only by the people in India but also by the Hindu community living in the other parts of the world. The festival is celebrated with immense joy and enthusiasm. Many devotees also fast on this occasion. It is believed that all the devotees who fast on this day are showered with immense happiness and good luck by Lord Rama. Ram Navami is one of the most ancient festivals celebrated in India. It is said that the date of Ram Navami can be traced back to the pre-christian era, as Hinduism is the oldest religion of the world. The reference of Ramnavami can also be found in the Kalika puran. It is said in the earlier times, when caste system was prevalent in India; Ramnavami was one of the few festivals that the lower castes (shudras) were allowed to celebrate. In Hindu religion, it is considered to one of the five major sacred festivals and it is said that, properly observing this fast leads to the attainment of salvation.

So........on this very widely celebrated day, I will spend some time working, sometime resting, and sometime exploring unexpected, but very nice gift to end a very rough few weeks!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

WELL!............Deep subject!

A week or so ago, on one of our "adventure" Sunday opportunities, Preston and I headed out in an auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) for an area of the city called Mehrauli.

We had been in the area thrice before (Qutub Minar), but we had not explored everything there is to see. As a matter of fact, even after this excursion, we have more to continue to explore.

After consulting a book on the area, Preston and I had our sights set on exploring the "jungle" area adjacent to the Qutub Minar park and finding the RAJON ki BAIN.

From the pictures we had seen in the book, this place looked like something that would be in a Indiana Jones movie.

What is the Rajon ki Bain? WELL.....the Rajon ki Bain is a stepwell...built during the Lodi period around the year 1506.

Stepwells are also known as
and this one was probably used primarily by masons, hence the name RAJON.

The water has long since left the area......leaving the well dry....a dry well in Hindi is also know as a Sukhi Baoli.

This stepwell has been well preserved and protected by the INTACH which is the preservation authority in India that protects very important archaeological treasures such as this.

Just next to the well, a mosque and tomb were built.....which came first I am not sure. While exploring the tomb we could not find any indicator on who was buried in it or to whom it belonged.

I have been intrigued with these stepwells since we discovered the beautiful stepwell with Parker this past summer. Most that I have seen since, like this one, are architecturally magnificent amazes me that such detailed work was used in the construction of what amounts to a hole in the ground used to collect and hold water!

Exploring the stepwell was equally as fun as finding it after our trek through the jungle. if one so desired, you could reach the floor of the well by navigating the hundreds of water......mostly trash......that appears to have found its way in one fashion or another.....

There are also several very skinny stairwells, not so easy to navigate if you are my height, but nonetheless, they led from one level to the next.....while navigating one Preston and I came to an area towards the rear of the well......approximately 1/3 of the way to the current floor level and peered through a small opening and discovered the round well where water must have been drawn by rope and buckets. We could look up and see the rope guides carved from the rock along the perimeter of the well........which meant there was a way up to the top.....looking down reminded me of the Hitchcock movie "Vertigo".....the well was very deep..........the walls provided no way out should you fall......scary deep.

After a few pictures, we found our way through the maze of slim staircases which were also being used by a herd of goats, to the flat roof of the structure.....the opening of the well was covered by a
, a small domed structure or turret supported by columns. It was from this vantage point that you could appreciate the depth of the well and how grueling a task it was to haul water from the depths by rope.

We managed to make our way over to the mosque and tomb.....took a few more photographs before leaving to explore the rest of the the Mehrauli "jungle" had to offer.......stayed tuned for more pictures from our adventure!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

If the Shoe Fits...........and a poem by Frida Wolfe

Before I begin, let me make it clear that this blog entry is not about a visit to Imelda Marcos' shoe closet.......but having said that, it is easy to imagine what her closet(s) were like being surrounded by so many pairs of shoes, stacked high to he ceiling.

Jutti's, Jutti's everywhere.......such was what I experienced on my recent visit to Amritsar......

Yes, Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple is also known for the high quality of Jutti's that are manufactured in this Punjabi city!

Did I purchase any..........while I was tempted, I decided to hold off for a later visit to Amritsar with the family......and besides, I already have a pair that I wear with my traditional Indian Clothing (which I am wearing tonight to attend a function).....but I do not wear them often enough to have justified the expense at this time.

However, during the time I spent in the shop, I did see some that I was interested in.......

As you can see, Jutti's come in all shapes, designs, colors, styles, each handmade.....did you expect anything less from the land that also boasts clothing that is work with such vivid colors and designs in the fabrics.......not me.

While any Indian, male or female, may walk into a similar Amritsari Jutti Store and come out with a perfectly fitting, handmade Jutti's, in my case it is not so easy......a U.S. size 13 is not a common size among the locals......hence my dilemma.

But when I am in the market, I have been assured that I can have some "custom made" to fit my overly large feet........and when I do decide to purchase my next pair, they will be made from some of the softest camel leather that I can find......

So, on a future visit to Amritsar, I recommend that you stop in......look around, and if the shoe fits.........Buy!

Now..... the poem......

Choosing Shoes
by Frida Wolfe

New shoes, new shoes,
Red and pink and blue shoes.
Tell me, what would you choose,
If they'd let us buy?

Buckle shoes, bow shoes,
Pretty pointy-toe shoes,
Strappy, cappy low shoes;
Let's have some to try.

Bright shoes, white shoes,
Dandy-dance-by-night shoes,
Perhaps-a-little-tight shoes,
Like some? So would I.

Flat shoes, fat shoes,
Stump-along-like-that shoes,
Wipe-them-on-the-mat shoes,
That's the sort they'll buy.