The Dhaba and the Glitz

Amritsar became a bit of a rest town for us… Carolyn’s stomach took a turn for the worse which structured our activities around toilets and rest. Realizing I’d been on the go since Christmas hit, I was pretty happy for a few low key days.

It was certainly a curious town… One that Carolyn and I have remarkably different perspectives on (funny the impacts diarrhea has). I saw it as a quiet – relatively speaking – Sikh town that passionately flew kites around a golden temple. Carolyn saw it as a stink hole with poo, spit and butt grabbing men everywhere. There were elements of truth in each.

We welcomed ourselves with a bang at a local dhaba, after viewing their gold plated Sikh temple… We’d heard this was a Punjabi specialty and so Carolyn put on a brave face and tough stomach to wander through twisty dark streets to find one. Sitting down in the definition of a hole in the wall, we blindly picked 2 items from the menu to curious stares (turns out one is to share between two). Food came and it was this fantastically buttery naan with all sorts of things stuffed inside and a few curries on the side. Our server gestured us to wait while he grabbed our naan in his hands – jury is out on his last hand wash – and crumpled it… Leaving no piece untouched. He placed it back down and it was time to eat. I was mildly creeped put by the manhandling… Carolyn forbids me to mention the incident because, at the height of her illness, this was the worst possible thing she could imagine and still makes her gag.

We kicked off our second day with a man grabbing both our asses in an otherwise pleasant park. After making a not so speedy escape from him by a bicycle rikshaw peddled by an old man, we sought refuge and relief at the India-Pakistan border closing ceremony. Not as intense as it sounds. The ceremony involved all of the following: 1000+ spectators, flag running, massive dance parties, cheering, soldiers high kicking (like, forehead knocking kicks) their way to the border, humming competitions, and more high kicks. I have no idea who came up with this but it draws in throngs daily.


With that we were off. Carolyn, now full of cipro, eagerly awaited the wonders of our layover in the Delhi airport on route to Jaipur… Wait for her guest blog on the thrills of that airport post diarrhea.

Cured and rested, we arrived in Jaipur. This is the glitzy stop on our trip. The city was the home of the royals back in the day, and it still shows. It was glitzy upon arrival, and the palaces and forts only reinforced that. The highlight was probably the observatory. It was a massive space full of gigantic (60 foot high.. See picture) tools for locating celestial objects. It felt like Alice in Wonderland being surrounded by this many massive tools and toys. For the past 2 days we’ve been puttering around other spectacularly intricate palaces, forts, tombs and temples. I’m currently reading a book about India under colonization and I can’t help but imagine how imcredible parts of this country would have been then (wrong message to take, I know).

A more modern day glitz came at the Bollywood movie last night. The theatre itself was none other than a real life replica of a Barbie cupcake-inspired theatre. The movie followed suit. The movie was sprinkled with dramatic English sayings amidst steamy and mysterious Hindi scenes (revenge is a dish best served……. Cold). But we were obviously there for the dancing, which was everything we hoped and more. I’ve committed to buying black hair extensions after watching spectacular women swish their hair around.

The rest of our time was spent feasting and shopping. It’s been a hard city for the wallet but, we were warned and loved every minute. Now, it’s to the south! Cannot wait to shed the sweaters and scarfs, and trade paneer for fresh fish! Ill leave you now with this monkey contemplating the takeover of Jaipur from his monkey temple on the hill.