Category Archives: shopping

Mumbai, Oh My….

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When our responsibilities, we headed into Central Mumbai to do some sightseeing. While I had really, really hoped to see the Elephanta Caves, it took a long time to arrange a meeting with the TISS director and we were only able to get down into Mumbai at 5:30. First stop in any Mumbai tour–the Gateway of India. The Gatheway was built to honor British Royalty at the turn of the century. It is right at the edge of the sea.

  

Above is the first Taj Hotel, located right next to the Gateway of India. The Taj is one of the fanciest chains of hotels in India. It was built by an Indian businessman who was turned away from a British hotel. The Taj claims to allow anyone in it’s doors–if you have the guts to do so. They are very fancy, intimidating places!

  

Some people sitting by the Gateway of India. The guy in the white outfit was really giving me a look!

This guy was shouting “Samosa chat! Samosa chat!” If only we could eat street food and not get sick. They looked delicious.

Sunset at Nariman Point.

  

This section of land by the sea is also called the Queen’s Necklace was the lights come on and dot the curved bay.

   

As we drove about town, we saw this Wedding Chariot. Plus some gorgeous British architecture.

  

It is kind of sad that the most beautiful buildings in Mumbai are emblems of British dominance. Below is the Victoria Railway Station. It is now an official historic site.

Hali Aji Mosque–right at the edge of the sea.  You can only reach the mosque during low tide via a small causeway. The place is famous for snacks and juices at night for locals.

These horse rides reminded me of the carriages in New York’s Central Park. They paraded around the Gateway of India area.

We ended a very long day in fabulous fashion–an INCREDIBLE seafood dinner at one of the best seafood restaurants in Mumbai: TRISHNA

White Salmon–to die for

  

One of the best garlic butter sauces I have EVER had.

We thought our night was done, but then we saw a street lined with clothing stalls, just closing up for the night. Using the camera-as mirror trick, Kim and I ended up with $4 shirts. Leti got the steal of the day. Three elephant handbags for the price of one!

  

We left for Bangalore the next day after more meetings and a bit of shopping. I wasn’t a huge fan of Mumbai. Although I did LOVE the food that I had there. I think if I returned I would try to focus my visit on eating in as many fabulous places as I could! I also appreciated that the city was built to be a large city. The roads were the appropriate size for the traffic. The sidewalks were in better shape. Bangalore is a garden hamlet that has exploded into a large city and completely lacks the infrastructure to do so–the roads are too small, the water is insufficient. But still, I was happy to return to Bangalore–my home away from home!

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Penn State faculty take on Bangalore!

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Kim and Leticia, my friend/fellow professors at Penn State joined me here in Bangalore for a business/sightseeing trip. They  planned their trip in India to last only SIX days due to commitments back home. Quite a whirlwind tour.   They arrived at 2:30 in the morning.  They met the kids when they awoke for school and then bravely joined me in my yoga class by 9 a.m. Then we headed off to see some B’Lore sights. First stop: Nandi the Bull

Kim and Leti got blessings from the Hindu priest at the Nandi statue

  

We also visited the Ganesh that is supposedly made out of Ghee (butter). But I swear it looked like stone to us.

  

Then I showed them the bats in the nearby park! Flying foxes!

Kim and Leti had the misfortune of being here on the day that my driver situation self destructed. After Nandi the Bull we were to visit Tipu’s Fort and Tipu’s Palace. But  instead, the driver started heading to the other side of town. We gave up on the sightseeing and decided to head to the Taj West End for a delicious buffet lunch at Mynt. Below are two photos from the Taj Grounds.

We then set out to do a bit of shopping. But the driver got lost again heading to Commercial Street–one of the biggest landmarks of Bangalore. We just had time to stop in at our favorite bedspread store.

Back home we spent some quality time with the two new additions to our neighborhood–a one month old Golden Retriever puppy named Angel

And  a three month old Golden puppy named Flash!  We love them both. But quite the different personalities–a newborn and a mischievous toddler!

   

Kaden’s lens

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It has been fascinating to see what Kaden finds interesting in our travels in India. Here are some of my favorite shots that she has taken so far.

Swimming pool at the Lemon Tree--our home for the first 10 days

Dada waiting for Rafiq the driver at the Lemon Tree

Ice cream at Baskin and Robbins. One of her most favorite places. She especially likes Cotton Candy, Banana and Strawberry, Cupid's Delight

Playground at Cubbon Park

    

Majarajah's Palace in Mysore

   

More scenes of Mysore

Colors at the Devraj Market in Mysore

  

Goa

  

Baby Caur in Rajiv Ghandhi National Park on safari

  

Hammock outside of our villa in Goa

J and K’s last day

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We all went to a buffet lunch at the Windsor hotel for J and K’s last day here (which was Feb 20). Everyone enjoyed the buffet except for Kinj who was still recovering from a bout of the Dehli Belly. Not fun! Ran discovered that the chef was Bengali and asked him to fix something gentle for Kinj’s stomach. He was served rice and dal. But the dal was very spicy, so he skipped that.

The Windsor is a very traditional British Raj hotel. In fact the dining room is called the Raj, and check out the bathroom doors.

   

The food was pretty good overall, but what was AMAZING was this dessert–Shahi Tukra. I went back for thirds. I felt pretty sick though after I realized what I had just inhaled–deep fried bread soaked in syrup, then covered in a cream sauce.  Totally delicious. Totally heavy!

After lunch, Todd and Ran went back with the driver to pick up the kids. The rest of us set out to do some last minute souvenir shopping.  We started out at the government emporium store–a place where you could buy anything beautiful and Indian–scarves, rugs, furniture, jewels, statues, paintings, clothing. But you pay quite a premium. We even saw the rug that Bill Clinton bought from that very store–$40K silk that literally changed colors as you walked around it. The softest thing I ever felt.

Then we wanted to get to Commericial Street to do some cheaper shopping. So all four of us (me, mom, Kinj and Janet) crammed into one little rickshaw and headed across town. The driver took one look at us and said “20 more rupees for four people!” He was still giving us such a fair price that I gave him a bit extra after we all piled out of the car like clowns in a circus. He looked at me funny, but I am so grateful when an auto driver doesn’t try to rip me off that I give extra.

We found a wonderful store where Janet and Kinj got some brass statues and I got a wonderful rug from Kasmir. I will be taking friends back there! But as we are gleefully shopping, we get a phone call from Ran. Neither he nor Todd has a key to the house. They have the kids and are stuck outside the villa. The security doesn’t have a key either. So the driver needs to make the 45 minute trip into town to get us and the keys and then back out again.

We get back with Baskin and Robbins ice cream in hand (to lessen the complaints!). By then, Todd has climbed two bamboo ladders tied together to get into the villa. Since the keys must be used even to get out of the house if the door is locked, he mainly managed to get swim suits, cold drinks, and snacks for the kiddos. On a hot day, that was a great call! Always an adventure!

The Saturday Night Market and other Goa street scenes

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 On Saturday night, Mom, Janet and I set out to do some serious shopping at Goa’s famous Night Market. It is only open once a week and is MASSIVE. It took us over an hour to get there because it seemed that the entire state was heading to the market. It turned out to be not the greatest shopping–poor quality stuff for the most part. I did buy a hammock and a shirt, but nothing of quality.

But what a scene!  Goan is known for its hippy culture and it was in full force at the market. Thousands of people were there. Live music and rave music were happening from each corner. Bars were serving stiff drinks. Ganga smell was in the air. The whole back side of the market was food, food, food (but I wasn’t going to trust any of it). It was a T

  

The rest of the photos are views from our shuttle as we were heading to and from the airport. Goa is a very small state in India. It was kept separate because it was previously a Portuguese colony and has a very distinctive culture and tradition compared to other regions of India. You can see the influence in the many mission style Catholic churches in the area. You can also see it in the food–lots more meat in the cooking here in Goa and also a different set of spices.

   

Carson is always happy to see a cricket game!

   

One of the churches, and there’s that guy with his crazy cow again!

Another big church in the country side.

The growth of the wine business in India

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On a very hot February morning, Todd and I headed north of town to join an ex-pat excursion to Grover Vineyard http://grovervineyards.in/  , a winery trying to establish itself as one of the elite in India.  Grover started with a search for the climate that would yield the best grape production. The Kashmir region took first place, but given the extreme political unrest up north, the second choice region became the preferred area–Bangalore.

The 40 of us were greeted at the beginning of our tour with jasmine garlands. Very fragrant. Often these gardens are placed in women’s hair. The scent was overpowering for many in the heat and folks wrapped them on their arms or on purses to move them away from their faces. I thought it smelled heavenly.

  

The Grover vineyard only started tours three months ago, and after I realized that I really thought they did a great job. We started out in the fields where a man described the growing process. They have vines grown the Indian way and the European way. The European vines and climate reminded me very much of Napa.

Every step of the touring process emphasized that Grover was doing everything just like the French do. They have a French person in charge of the entire process, they import their barrels and grapes from France, and so on. As I teach in my policy classes, mimicry is the way a new company in a new place gains legitimacy. It is interesting how little I hear Napa folks comparing their production to France. It is almost in the U.S. like there is an explicit attempt not to try to compare to France in Napa but instead to establish the value of U.S. wine in its own right. I most remember comparisons in which the U.S. winemakers showed the medals that they won over french wins.

  

After touring the fields and the production facilities we were finally taken to the tasting room. Sitting down with some wine put a smile on our faces. We are pictured here with my new friend Priya. She lived in the States for 17 years (including Illinois and Boston) before deciding to move back to India with her family. I am learning a lot from her about the struggles and successes of returning back to India. For her kids, it is not returning, but moving to an entirely new place–not so easy, and especially not so easy to learn how to fit in to a very different schooling structure. Priya has kiddos the same age and gender as ours, so we are hoping to plan to get the families together soon.

   

Most of the wines were just okay, and some were actually quite awful. We sat with a fun group of Brits and one lady exclaimed after a red, “it smells like old leather shoes.” But thankfully our opinions changed after we had the last wine, La Reserve. A delicious blend of cab sav and syrah. So delicious that I bought a bottle to bring home to share with my monthly wine group.

  

After tasting perhaps too much wine, we had a lovely biryani lunch outside, with even more wine. Ducks floated about in the pond and monkeys climbed overhead!

Headin’ to Sankey Tank

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After the kids came home from school, we headed out on an outing. Todd had been home all day while I was out doing fieldwork and we needed to give him a taste of India! First stop–the Malleswaram shopping district. Recommended in my ex-pat guidebook, the shopping area had nice sidewalks and both permanent shops plus street vendors.

  

I found an Indian top for the equivalent of $4. Kaden and I used the camera as a mirror since we couldn’t see how we looked. Me-yes on the top for wandering about India. Kaden–no on the stripes.

  

Carson found a cricket bat.

Todd found ground coffee. Love this picture below. The kids are comparing who has the bigger “Litzinger chin dimple” while Todd buys some local Coorg coffee in the background.

  

Anyone know what this fruit is? I’m not sure.

Then we headed to Sankey Tank. It’s an awful name for one of the most beautiful place in Bangalore–a lovely body of water surrounded by a walking path. Like many parks, it is not open all the time and not even mid day. It is saved for the serious walks who arrive early in the morning and later in the evening. The rest of the day the park is closed–even on Saturdays! Thus our first attempts to visit were thwarted by the restricted hours. Today we brought the kids’ scooters and set off for a stroll.

    

   

On the way back, we stopped for McDonalds fries and nuggets and some Baskin and Robbins ice cream. Todd said he wanted peanut butter cup ice cream and I had to explain that peanut butter is a flavor that one only finds in the United States. It is a weird, acquired taste that most of the rest of the world thinks is quite gross! You can buy peanut butter here in ex-pat friendly stores, but you won’t find it in restaurants.