New Delhi, India. Here we are in the capital of India, uncomfortably close to Pakistan, and would you believe it’s raining?
When you haven’t seen this particular meteorological condition for seven weeks, it seems a bit strange. We actually had to put on our rain jackets, for warmth as well as protection. We’re not used to having extra layers on, but the temperature was only in the high 60’s, which is about twenty degrees lower that we are used to. I loved it; Don was freezing.
We left our hotel with the intention of walking 500 meters to Gandhi’s house, but were waylaid by a driver wanting to show us his new tuk-tuk and drive us around the city at a very reasonable price for four hours.
Our first stop was at the Crafts Museum, which promotes indigenous artists and highlights their work. There were some beautiful things on display, and for sale. Wish we had an extra empty suitcase and a coolie to carry it for us. But alas, no.
That gave us a taste for some craft objects of our own, so we spent some time in various so-called craft emporiums and finally found a small bronze of Ganesha which I had in mind for the Bredwell bronze collection, humble as it may be. Ganesha is guaranteed to bring us luck so we are carrying him with us.
Our grandest stop was at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the old Viceroy’s House, and now the official residence of the president of India. (You can’t get too close.)
What is astonishing is the scale of the imperial vision of this amazing collection of residential an administrative buildings, built between 1914 and 1931. The viceroy would enter through the India Gate, and proceed about a mile to the official residence, with 340 rooms occupying 330 acres. It is evocative of Pall Mall, past huge official office buildings, each with 1,000 rooms. The scale, the scope, dare one say the hubris? The government ministries flanking the road to the palace leave no doubt that a mighty power was in place. Too bad they had to leave so soon after it was completed.
Don’s Food Corner
We’re staying in a hotel that could be considered the ultimate lasting British enclave in New Delhi, The Claridges. Although not built until after India gained independence, it was intended to appeal to westerners, particularly Brits.
This appeal, it seems, extends to the food. Order an Indian dish in a restaurant in the hotel and you’d quickly recognize it as something from a London Indian take-away. To be fair, northern Indian cuisine is what those of us in the U.S. and the U.K. are most familiar with, but add to that a decided restraint in spiciness and you get the idea.
At lunch today at the hotel, the Indian dish we ordered featured the Indian cheese paneer. The cubes of cheese were nestled into a creamy tomato sauce that was so mild it was almost bland. Every drop of that comfy sauce was cleaned out of the serving dish. You can’t be adventuresome at every meal, can you?