There weren’t too many jolly, bearded white men ho ho hoing in the holiday season to jingles, carols and muzak, but there was christmas music and selective decorations in The Promenade, the nicest mall in Delhi. It was at the Promenade that the holiday celebration begun and also where it neatly ended.
After a long 24th where we played cards and chatted until close to 2am it was easy to convince Amrita to take the day off work to enjoy the holiday, although this was still somewhat of a risk as she must complete a major report for her work before the years’ end.
We decided that we would organize food, drinks, and some semblance of traditional xmas decorations (amrita always had a tree growing up in Kolkatta, where santa is quite popular) for a small gathering at the house in the evening. First, we went to enjoy Paa, a popular Bollywood movie, featuring a famous elderly actor who plays a child with a genetic defec that makes him rapidly age. (spoiler alert!) His mother is a gorgeous Obstetrician and has him out of wedlock with a powerful politicians son who would prefer an abortion as news of their relations would damage his career. It is only near the end of the film that he learns that the child was not aborted and is actually this special, popular, elderly kid. The child lives long enough to get his parents to wed and havea bridght, bollywood future together.In reality the actor who played the father is the son of the grandpakind. It was a nice film with not very much dancing, but a few solid montages. During the intermission we went to the concession stand to discover only popcorn in sizes fit for the maharaja and all his concubines were available, so we proceded to order nachos that came with sealed nacho and salsa in separat containers. The cashier also didn’t have any change. He wrote the amount due to me the back of a paper plate which he then ripped and gave me. About halfway through the second half of the film, a flashlight cut down the left aisle, where the cashier was searching for my assigned seat. He delivered me the money and returned outside.
Once the movies were completed we went to purchase groceries and some holiday cheer. Although we could not locate a tree, we did manage to buy plum cake, and Atri brought candles to the house to make the fesitvities complete. Once finished with the mall we hopped in a tuk-tuk and went about 20 minutes to the local English wine and liquor shop. (Courtesy of Collonialism, every alchol vendor bears this name) We purchased a few 600ml Kingfishers, and a bottle of wine before jumping into another tuk-tuk to journey home. Amrita started inviting over friends, while I made some playlists and then we ordered heaps of Chinese food. And it was delicious.
Atri arrived at 9pm followed shortly thereafter by three close friends who stayed the night. We chatted, ate, played Set and Jenga, told stories. Since everyone originally had plan to travel this weekend, it was decided that we would take a spontaneous road trip the next day. Atri found an interesting place via an internet search and it was decided we would leave first thing in the morning for Eastern Rajasthan, have a nice breakfast along the way and make to an impressive fort by lunchtime followed by a few different potential routes based on time and traffic: either a trip to the most haunted town in India, or a journey to a large Lake in Alwar. Ultimately we chose the latter.
Atri and I stayed up all night and began the morning nuptials at 4:30. Tea was made, food was stored, and trash bagged. Around 5 we began rousing the road warriors who slowly shook themselves to conciousness. Then we were off in two silver hatchbacks. The fort was very beautiful, and also very small. With a 500 INR entrance fee it had gorgeous views of the village below and a pool with a panaromic vista. But before we saw that we had to backtrack on the road to find a place to serve us breafast. After this most necesarry meal we returned and stormed the fort as paying visitors before driving onward, past many rajasthani villages to Sillysillylake in Alwar.
Alwar was a very clean, organized city that had excellent trees and hundreds of monkeys. The Sillylake is actually the southern tip of a large wildlife reserve and therefore was teeming with fish and birds. We ate an exoribinate amount of snacks (pikoras, omlettes and fries) as the full kitchen services had closed, and booked a boat trip and walked along the dam. Pictures will show the serenity of this place best.
We then piled into our cars and embarked a 6 hour journey home. And it was hard, gruelling and difficult, but we made it with most faculties intact. Along the way, a rock was stuck in our partner car’s gearbox resulting in the car being stuck to only 3rd gear. Thankfully he was able to slowly drive with with hazards lights ablazing to the next cluster of civilization, where Amrita spotted an auto shop that was still open at 11am. 3 Kids managed to assess and fix the problem in 5 minutes time for cheap and then we were back on the road, delerious and determined.
When we arrived back in Delhi, Atri was insistent that we eat a solid meal, one we did deserve. So back to the Promenade wewent for ItAlia, and we ate like kings, shortly before sleeping like rocks. A great holiday.