And before we knew it we were in Delhi – the final destination in our 3 week India trip. You can see the rest of our itinerary here. Unfortunately Mr PSGC couldn’t manage to take 3 weeks away from work – so he left the kids and I in Delhi and flew to work in Bangalore for 4 days, where he has an office.
Delhi is the political capital of India, and has been for centuries. Its a vast city, with so many things to do you are spoiled for choice especially historical sites and monuments. After 2 weeks of traveling in Rajasthan however, our kids were monumented out, so we opted for a more chilled experience.
The Imperial Hotel Delhi
We stayed at the famous Imperial Hotel in the heart of Lutyens Delhi, and a short walk to the buzz of Connaught Place. We chose it for its location, history……and fabulous swimming pool.
Its rated as the number one hotel in Delhi. Definitely colonial, it has more than a nod to Art Deco. The public areas are grand and beautiful. Our rooms however although large seem a little tired and dated. Annoyingly the hotel also still charges for decent wifi (the free package isn’t worth having) – which in this day and age just seems cheap. All other hotels we stayed in during our trip gave unlimited wifi.
There were beautiful floral displays throughout the whole hotel. These cages had artificial birds and butterflies adorning the outside. Though my resident photo bombers made it difficult to get a great shot.The hotel has around 6-7 restaurants, including this atrium where afternoon tea is served.
The hotel is dripping in heritage and history. This bar claims to have been the location for Nehru, Gandhi and Mountbatten to discuss the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. Although to while we were there, the Delhi smog made most days pretty overcast. As a result we had the giant pool and outdoor hot tub to ourselves most days.
Our plan in Delhi was to recharge and relax, so we kept ourselves “busy” hanging out by the pool (a lot) and shopping in various neighbourhoods.
We visited a number of shopping areas – including around Connaught square and the Janpath and Tibetan markets around the square. We also took the metro to Dilli Haat. Its been created to look like a traditional weekly village market. we went really in the morning, so a lot of the stalls weren’t open.
We also visited an up market shopping Mall – The Select City Mall. Many of the shops were western brands that we have at home, which didn’t interest us – but the mall had a cinema complex, and we had travelled quite far to get there, so we took in a movie while we were there.
We visited the India Gate, and were again inundated with locals wanting their picture taken with the kids. We weren’t in a hurry, so we indulged it, as the requests are very polite.
We chose to visit Gourmet Desires. Its run by the very lovely Jyoti in her own home. We exchanged a few emails before coming to the class – so Jyoti could get details in advance (and had the ingredients to hand) of the dishes we wanted to cook – she will tailer the class specifically for you.
Her house is about 45 minutes into the suburbs from our hotel, so after introductions and a cold drink, we were ready to get started.
First Joyti talked us through the principles of Indian cooking, and the many spices and flavourings used in Indian cooking. If you have time, she will take you on a tour of the markets to choose (or just learn about) the spices and vegetables in season.
And then it was on to the cooking. The list of items Jyoti cooked with us was quite amazing in the time we had:
- Green Chutney
- Paneer Kofta – (nibbles)
- Tikki with peas – (nibbles)
- Butter sauce. This could be added to meat or fish – we added to the left over paneer koftas
- Pulao rice
- Chicken Korma
She will happily adapt the menu to your taste. And the length of the session to your choosing as well.
Joyti has a beautiful kitchen in the back, but we did most of the cooking on this small gas hob.
Green ChutneyPeas for the Tikki…. ( a potato cake stuffed with spiced peas). These were delicious. And the paneer kofta.
A big hit with Abbi especially. Making the cauliflower… We loved just chatting with Jyoti about her life and getting an insight and local perspective of life. the cauliflower took minutes to make, and was delicious. Unfortunately Abbi burned herself slightly. But an ice pack and some burn cream, and she was good to go. And then we were ready to eat this banquet….Jyotis son joined us for lunch. We had eaten the tikki, kofta and green chutney as “nibbles”, so for lunch we had (clockwise) the cauliflower, rice, chicken korma, paneer in butter sauce and daal. Literally every mouthful a delight.
As if this wasn’t enough, Joyoti also made chapati (that again Abbi devoured).
This was our favourite resuarant in Delhi. The fabulous Tamra in the Shangri La hotel. It was only a short walk from our hotel, and we went there a couple of times.
There is an a la carte option, but what our kids liked was the buffet. It serves all manner of south asian options; Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Indian, as well as great salads, steaks, fish and a dessert bar. Everything is great quality, and the chefs at each station will cook items to order if you have a particular preference. A Japanese hot plate, and sushi bar are also available.
And that was it.
Holiday over for another year. We leave india with bags full of spices, tea, and beautiful textiles, cameras and phones full of beautiful images, but more importantly amazing memories of the sights, sounds and experiences we have enjoyed. We have loved visiting India, and will definitely be back!
Poverty and Begging
A lot of our friends have asked us how we (and the kids) reacted to the poverty in India. We spoke to the kids a lot about this. They are old enough to be aware of the difficult conditions many people have to live in, and I feel its important for us not to sugar coat the situation..
Unfortunately begging is everywhere. If there are tourists, beggars will congregate. And while there is no disputing that the poverty is real, there is often more than meets the eye regarding the beggars. It is frequently carried out in organised gangs, the proceeds of the days begging being handed over to the Gang lord at the end of the day. We saw many beggars with young babies. Its impossible not to have your heart tugged by the image of mothers or young children pitifully begging for milk for the baby. However in reality many of the babies have been rented for the day from their mothers, and the babies are frequently drugged to keep them sleepy and compliant.
How to deal with it
Having done a bit of research before we went to India, we made the decision not to give to beggars while we were there. It is very difficult (impossible) to ignore – and as a culture not used to experiencing these levels of poverty on our doorstep. Its very tough not to hand over amounts of money that are very small by western standards, so that you can feel like you are doing something.
Giving to beggars is a disincentive to them finding work – encourages more beggars into the network, and there is no guarantee that it is going to a truly needy individual.
We explained it to our children that by giving to the beggars we would be making ourselves feel good – but in reality contributing to the problem. There are so many beggars it would be impossible to help them all. Far better to donate to organisations who support people genuinely in need and or danger, and help to move them out of the poverty trap.
At the end of the day its a very personal decision.
Since coming home we have decided to donate to these charities, who I think do incredible work in their respective cities.
Salaam Baalak Trust “Is an Indian non-profit and non-governmental organization which provides a sensitive and caring environment to street and working children in Delhi, India”
Mumbai Street Children Empowerment Network “Our mission is to empower all underprivileged children of Mumbai by providing them access to education, recreation and a healthy environment with the help of which they can build a steady and friendly future for themselves and to set up a network that will take care of every child in need”