Tuesday, December 3, 2013

India: Transportation & Shopping


Getting around Delhi can be quite the feat;  there were a number of options but our primary mode of transport were the autos (autoricksaw or tuk-tuk). Every auto is installed with a meter ; and we were warned to ALWAYS request for the meters to be turned on before boarding.  A running meter determines whether you pay 50 rupees or 300 rupees to your destination.   Luckily for us, we already mastered the head bobbing which pretty much means : yes, no, maybe, I don’t know. lol. Armed with the few words we’d jutted down from our 5 year old teacher Avaira, our negotiating typically consisted of vigorously bobbing our heads accompanied with words like “Nay – No” “Han-Yes” , “Bahad dam – expensive” “tikeh – ok” or “chello – lets go”.

Random fact – a lot of drivers don’t know where places are and so we had to have directions or be ready to make multiple stops for the drivers to ask for directions.

Train – I was very impressed by the Delhi Metro, the trains are clean and air-conditioned. They also have a separate cars for women which I think is really neat if you do not want to entertain unwanted male advances; and oooh get this!! cell phones work underground - I called Rosa who was standing next to me just to see – take note NYCDOT.
The tokens for the train are very inexpensive, it costs 25 rupees ($0.40) from Hauz Khas to Chandi Chowk – 20 mins train ride.  If, you do travel this route, let me warn you ahead of time, it is in your best interest to buy a round trip token before you get to Chandi Chowk.  Nothing, I repeat nothing will prepare you for the mayhem that is Chandi Chowk. Unfortunately for us, we had to buy our return token here - the lines were looooong, we got shoved around and people cut into the lines in front of us as if we werent there; it took at least 40 mins for us to get a token . In the famous words of Terri from Terri & Rachel in Chandi Chowk, “Chaos Reigns Supreme”.
Avaira's Cheat Sheet :)
Old Delhi (Terry & Rachel)

This could totally be NY right?!

Women's car 

Our over zealous driver who deftly twisted his 'stache before demanding a picture 
The best part of traveling to any country is the shopping right?! And Delhi has got more than enough options to sate the appetite of any shopaholic. There are the big open markets as well as the fancy boutiques. I do not have picturees but Fab India in Khan Market is a staple foreigners, it has good quality pieces that bridge Indian and western fashion.

This is the place where all your jewelry fantasies come to life; you'll find stall after stall of statement necklaces, bangles and rings. The necklace from my 30 Things post was from here and cost me only 300rps ($4). Outside of jewelry you’ll also find tapestry, scarves, pillow covers and tons more. The prices are great, I bought about 12 scarves for  1000rps ($16), of course I haggled but even if I ended up paying more it would’ve still been a deal.
Fun fact about Rose and I’s Janpath expedition; I went searching for Rose, we’d  split up to do separate shopping. I found her shopping for meditation bowls in a little shop, I was busy minding my business when the shop owner who turned out to be clairvoyant decided to show us how to use the bowl. I was the practice subject. While we were “meditating” he connected with my Chakra and told me some pretty interesting stuff like my worries etc. The whole things was so bizzare ‘cos I usually don’t believe in such things.

Those big pieces cost between $6-$10

Getting schooled on meditation
Interested in learning about meditation 101 before buying a bowl? Go to this guy , and he gives good prices 

Deeli Hart
This is a baazar and the only open market where you have to pay to an entrance fee. It only cost about 25rps ($0.40), the idea is to reduce the crowds, here you get the feel of shopping in an open marked without being swarmed with people forcing you to buy things. At Deeli Hart you’ll find a lot of traditional clothes, rugs, pretty much anything woven and much more. I spent most of my time at the antique stand.

Funny story – at the entrance to the market, there was a sign that read “India Weaves 2013”, when I saw this, I did a little internal happy dance and I quietly decided i'd get “natural brown, 22inches, sealed weft” imagine my utter disappointment when I walked in and realized the “weaves” were for textiles. I had a good laugh at myself on that one. I thought they were referring to extensions.  Haha #the weavaholic in me. In case my story makes no sense to you; India is one of the biggest exporters of hair extensions #everyweavaholicsdream :)

The misleading sign :) 

Oh yea, Delhi seemed to be LOADED with stray dogs.

Connaught Place (close to Janpath)
It seemed like a place where the rich (or at least above average) shop, it’s like an open mall with stores likes United Colors, Lens Crafters and other well-known brands.  For eats, you’ll get everything from fine dining to the KFCs and Starbucks. We went to Connaught Place the same day we went to Chandi Chowk, it was such a weird feeling coming from total chaos and Connaught place where the first thing we saw stepping out of the subway was Starbucks. By the way, this was the best Starbucks I had been to, you see for yourself…

We had dinner at United Coffee house which seemed more like  a place where rich men go to talk business. The pictures do not quite capture it well but the décor is polished wood, leather and very masculine.  The menu was  at least 30 pages long with French, Italian, Thai, Chinese, British and American sections catering to the predominant groups of India visitors.

The entire decor is all local creation - Love it 

best tasting water I had 

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