Sunday, March 20, 2011

Holi 2011

We started celebrating Holi a little early this year - at the kids' school last weekend. It was a beautiful, sunny day filled with kite flying, tug-of-war, food, and of course colors. Holi is the Hindu spring festival of colors - a fun celebration of the start of the warm season. It's a day to share in joy and laughter with your family and neighbors.
We all tried our hand at kite flying - the kites are simple diamond-shapes made of wood and paper. As a result they have a pretty short shelf-life, but if you can get them up high enough to catch the steady breeze they will stay aloft all day! Evan probably had the best results of getting one airborne with a few of his friends.
There were several matches of tug-of-war. The kids went first - Boys against girls, then it was Moms vs Dads. In both cases it was a draw.
We enjoyed traditional Indian snacks of papri chaat, aloo tiki, samosa, pao bahaji. There was also hot dogs, chicken burgers and freshly made ice cream.
Then the real fun started... we went to the designated "zone" to for "playing colors" and cut loose. Old clothes are recommended. Throw in a mix of dried colors (of course we used all natural, herbal varieties), bags and bags of flower petals - reds, oranges, and whites. And long pichkaries. These are large pistons for shooting water and liquid colors. The longer you stay in the melee, the darker you become... soaking wet and usually a deep shade of purple, or in this case, orange.
Evan stayed on the fringes so kept pretty clean, but Audrey Lesa and I mixed it up pretty well with the international crowd of kids, moms and dads. A highly recommended way to kick off the warm weather.
Happy Holi!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Street Snacks

We took a trip last weekend to check out the Mogul gardens by the Presidential palace grounds here in Delhi. It was our third year to visit the gardens and it's always a treat. Especially because the weather this time of year is near-perfect. Definitely the best time of year to be in India! These gardens are some of the prettiest in India. The gardens were originally laid out by the British, but modeled after the style and symmetry established by the Mogul Emperors. Because the gardens are only opened to the public for one month (15 Feb - 16 March), the later you go in this 30 day window, the crazier the entrance to the gardens tends to be.
There is a huge crowd of local, and international tourists, school children and local residents milling about outside. A loudspeaker blares instructions in Hindi through a distorted sound-system telling you all that you can't bring inside. The list includes cameras, cell phones, chewing gum and water. As with most public events, gents and ladies line up and enter through separate queues for security.
Streetside, the chaat wallahs are lined up selling snacks to all the visitors. Everything from cotton candy, to bhel and panni puri to aloo tikki, pakoras and samosas. Of course the kids' favorites are the ice cream vendors.
These guys can be found almost anywhere, but line up one after another at special events to sell their "Mother Dairy" and "Kwality" brands of cones, popsicles and cups.
Our Saturday outing was a great way to experience the sights, sounds and smells of "Springtime" in Delhi.