I was told over and over again that I would suffer from “culture shock” when I returned to the United States from studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. But it turns out, I didn’t have time for that. Just a week after returning to my house in New York I was back at John F. Kennedy International Airport for a flight to New Delhi, India. My father grew up in Kolata and New Delhi, and my grandparents, along with the rest of my relatives on my father’s side, live in India. I am currently halfway through my stay here. While visiting my family, catching up on reading (Lisbeth Salander has been taking up a lot of my time), and eating my Didu’s (grandmother’s) delicious cooking, I have traveled to Kolkata and been to several fairs, monuments, and markets in Delhi. Here are a few of the places I have visited:
- Surajkund International Crafts Mela: a fair which exhibits “international crafts and traditions.” There were foods, heirlooms, and handicrafts from different parts of India for sale.
- Kolkata: a city in West Bengal. I flew to Kolkata for a 4-day trip and stayed at my father’s Mashi’s (aunt’s) house. I got to hangout with cousins who are close in age to me. Here is a picture of the pond behind my Mashi’s house.
- National Tribal Festival: a weeklong festival organized by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs that aimed to promote the culture of the tribal people in India. There were foods, handicrafts, film showings, and performances, one of which is pictured below.
- Red Fort: constructed by Shah Jahan in the 1600’s, the fort is part the Shahjahanabad, the seventh city of Delhi, which was moved to Old Delhi from Agra. It is now a popular site for tourists.
- Jama Masjid (mosque): also constructed by Shah Jahan, who’s most well-known for the construction of the Taj Mahal, this mosque is the largest in India.
Down the street from the mosque is Karim’s, a popular restaurant with some of the best meat dishes I have ever eaten. It is a must for anyone who visits Old Delhi.
- Dilli Haat: a market open everyday where artists and handicraftsmen can sell their work. This is one of my favorite places to go when I visit Delhi because I often meet the people who have handmade the items I buy. I tend to do most of my shopping for friends and family here. Even if I don’t have the rupees (Indian currency) to shop, I like to walk around the market and look at the pieces.