Thursday, January 27, 2011

India Travel Guide including Tips, Traveler Tales and More

A friend of mine is visiting India in a few weeks. Of course, she is very excited and so am I for her. I always tell people i meet that they should visit India (where i was born and spent the first 25 yrs of my life) once in their lifetime. It really is a sensory, overwhelming, mystical, chaotic, eye-opening, spiritual , perhaps life-changing experience.

So this time around, i thought instead of providing tips here and there and talking about India and its stories, to actually put down a travel sheet/guide. A different type of guide that would

1. Have a suggested itinerary - in different parts - like a week in Rajasthan, a week around Delhi, etc.
2. Some tips - like must have street food, (for example Pav Bhaji in Bombay, the litti in Bihar).
3. And excerpts from traveler tales written by authors visiting from outside India. I just ran into this great collection of Travelers Tales from India edited by James O'Reilly. I would highly recommend it.

So to begin, here is an extract about the pleasures and joys of street food in India (as published in the Traveler's Tales, India - page 160).
Dining at Indian restaurants outside the country does NOT prepare you for the experience of eating in India.
No cuisine could be more exotic or particular to place, intricately reflecting a multi-layered culture defined in religion, history and ritual.

Standing in the middle of an Indian marketplace, surrounded by swirling crowds of people, animals, bicycles, fume-belching motorized rickshaws and cown0drawn carts, all impossibly squeezing in and out of the narrowest alleyways, you marvel at how life can be lived at this density.

Absolutely every human activity goes on in the streets, and that is where the best food in India is to be found, cooked on carts or in cubby holes in buildings and alleyways.

- Patricia Unterman, "Culinary Nirvana in the Streets of India,
San Francisco Chronicle.

I cant help but agree with Patricia here. It is the Indian bazaar that bring life out in the midst of the din around and give an extra dimension to the experience of eating out. So for instance, if you are in Bombay, then dont miss the Pav Bhaji at Juhu Beach, or the Kebabs at the Jama Masjid in Delhi and the countless more.
And yes i really do hope to complete the guide and dedicate it to the good friend and Yoga Instructor, whose trip initiated this all!!

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