Monday, 18 April 2016

A Family Reunion

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Once again a reunion of my parents with all their children and spouses in Gurgaon, near Delhi. Although the main objective of this reunion was administrative, we still had to get around and do things. This included looking up some family members notably Surinder Uncle and his family who once again live fairly nearby in Gurgaon and of course no visit would be complete without a few get togethers with MamaJi, that central figure in our family who has singlehandedly made us laugh and kept us entertained for as long as I can remember.
With Birinder and MamaJi
There was also the shopping aspect of the visit as some things can only be bought in India to take advantage of the pricing in relation to Europe. Top among these were turbans, of which I needed a few to replenish the ones that have suffered and have found their way into a bag of scraps which we use for the odd car wash or other such mundane tasks which require cleaning. Also on our list were teas, clothes and gifts which are popular with our friends back at home. And I wanted to see if I could improve upon the quotes for making of new specs in Europe.
Now Delhi is full of markets and Gurgaon is home to at least 10 big malls (some that would be the envy of US malls) and some of these malls have the same or higher prices than in US and Europe, but there is nothing anywhere to match the Lajpat Nagar market, where we found virtually everything we needed in one three hour visit, in 40 degrees heat. We have known this market since I first came to Delhi as a 7 or 8 year old and I think it has got better over the years. When many of our friends came over from Europe in 2008 for my 60th, it was here that they all found their presents and they could not believe the prices, which were much better than the usual shops because this market is off the tourist map.
Shop assistant Lajpat Nagar Market (Note microphone to get shoe sizes from interior)

And one can never forget the thrill of going into a Haldiram, Kwality or Punjabi restaurarants and pig out on the mouthwatering dishes..not normally available where we live, except when Marisol decides to treat us to one of her specialties learnt over the years. I also do a mean 'chole' or chickpea curry which involves mixing one or two ingredients and microwave for three minutes! However nothing in comparison to what is to be found in India, where even the breakfast at our humble hotel was a treat (spice and chillies included).
The weather in a word was HOT. The first few days saw us melting in 40+ (Centigrade) heat and desperately trying to stay out of the sun. Later things calmed down a bit (35 to 38) but nevertheless it was fun to spend three weeks in March/April in shorts, half sleeves and sandals. Mosquitoes were a problem but Marisol had brought sprays to dissuade them from biting our delicious legs!
One of the great treats in India is the possibility of having a car with driver at your disposal at a very reasonable cost, and our man in Delhi (P) made sure that we were well looked after in this aspect. Over the days three or four different drivers looked after us day and night and made it easy for us to get around for our frequent outings to sightseeing, shopping and hospitals and clinics for a series of checks and follows ups to recent interventions. 
Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in Delhi
Some of the drivers were a bit rusty on their knowledge of getting around Delhi, although I must admit finding addresses in Delhi can be difficult at the best of times when many of the streets, specially in residential areas, have no names. One street near where we stayed was called merely 'the 30 Meters Wide Road'. But there were one or two drivers who knew most of the big places in Delhi and one in particular, Deepak was all knowledgable about the local news, politics and curious about everything. We had many enjoyable conversations with this man over the long drives while getting around. His usual 'koi dikkat nahin' to say in hindi something like 'no problem' was new to me and in return I taught him the English version and also the Aussie version (No worries) for when he had to transport folks from down under.
Marisol & Subodh Gupta's tree made from steel pots and pans

The obligatory visit to the Delhi Art Museum also had to be done, and our driver that day knew where India Gate was but not anything about nearby Jaipur House where the museum is located. When we finally made it, for once the entry ticket person accepted our PIOs andOCIs and let us pay the Indians entrance charge of 25 Rupees. Guess how much the international visitors have to pay - 500 Rupees! Thats what we had to pay on our last visit.
Meanwhile parents looked frail but hanging in there. Lets hope they remain stable and we wish them the very best. Finally many thanks to P & C who wined and dined us and generally helped us with everything.

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