Monday, December 24, 2007

The 'not so mild' winter - 2

I’m’ back to the big city from a trip to my hometown with a visit to an ancient university thrown in. I shall try to give you taste of that experience in the coming posts. First, I have to present the 2nd edition of the Delhi Winter.

Narendra enthusiastic driving skills saw us entering the gates of Dilli Haat within twenty minutes of leaving Central Delhi, despite the rush hour. Haat is a word in Hindi for a weekly village market and true to the meaning; the place has the charm and feel of a village fair.

Having heard from many about the place, I was expecting it to be a mere marketplace selling articles and goods from the different parts of rural India. And, the first look suggested the same. Two hours later I walked out of the place with a sense of appreciation and a feeling of pride for our country’s rich and superbly diverse culture. The place isn’t a mere marketplace…it’s a showcase of the skills and craft of many small, unknown and unsung artistes and craftsmen from different corners of the country. It’s a nurturing ground for such talents, a great idea and a massive effort. I couldn’t have brought Farhan to a better place and he was almost euphoric. I shared this feeling with him.

Apart from the artifacts from the many parts of India, it has stalls carrying the distinct food from the different states. We chose the authentic filter coffee from the Tamil Nadu stall. The excellent coffee went very well with the rising chill of the evening.

Once again, Farhan picked up a few things for his family while I managed with much needed key rings, made from coconut wood, an EkTaara (a one string musical instrument) and a Damroo (a percussion instrument, supposed to be the favorite of Lord Shiva). The Ektaara player was an obscure talent, playing many popular Hindi tracks on a ONE-STRINGED instrument. The melodies of Mera Joota Hai Japaani, Reshmi Salwaar Kurta Jaalidaar, Ek Do Teen, just kept flowing from one string. It was a stunning performance!

Just near the exit, a puppet show was in full swing and it held us captive for the next 20 minutes. The kids and the puppeteer were the guys having most fun. The themes of a show varied between ‘a snake-charmer unsuccessfully trying to manage a cobra’ and ‘a gallant horse-rider displaying his skills on the horse’. The last time when I saw a puppet show, I was a kid. While watching this one, I became a kid again. Mesmerized and Charmed!

The evening ended with a delicious meal at Punjabi by Nature, a restaurant recommended by an old friend and a Delhi old timer who later joined us at the joint. The Reshami Kebab was of the size of a loaf of bread and we had to use a knife to cut slices of it. It was one of the finest Kebaabs, I’ve ever tasted and we thanked the ‘Delhi friend’ for his excellent recommendation.

The long day and a great meal had made the two of us amply sedate. We said our goodbyes to the ‘Delhi friend’ and headed towards the guesthouse with Narendra. A calm and satisfied look on Farhan’s face with sleep getting ready to take over suggested that he had a good time. I smiled inside my mind and looked outside the window of the moving car.

The picture above is from the puppet show. Can you catch a fleeting glimpse of the cobra and the snake-charmer?

Wish you all a very Happy Christmas!

13 comments:

alien said...

wishing you a merry christmas.

In udaipur also the rajasthan tourism takes an initiative and "Shilpgram utsav" is organised every dec. 21-30 which has all that u've mentioned and more .
Every evening is dedicated to state wise cultural programs and enjoying the warmth of rich Indian Culture in the cold winter sitting in an amphitheater...

welcome back

cheers!!!!

Smiling Dolphin said...

oh please don't encourage snake charmers. this year at naag panchaami I will arrange for you to accompany the SPCA inspectors and vets as they rescue the poor cobras. as you help them to remove the stitches from their mouths, i promise you will never pay another charmer again.....

on a better note, hi and welcome back:-)

meraj said...

alien,
good info on shilpgram utsav...will check it out when i go to Udaipur.

dolphin,
the post isnt an intention to encourage snake charmers. its an attempt to encourage and appreciate the long lost, homegrown form of arts like puppet shows and playing the Ektaara. my apologies, if it came across as encouraging any amount of cruelty to any living thing.

cheers!
m

Smiling Dolphin said...

someone just gifted me wooden toys from dilli haat made in karnataka. so much cuter than fisher price:-)

meraj said...

the connection continues...on my visit i eneded up picking up the keyrings from the same stall. they are made of coconut wood, right?

Smiling Dolphin said...

yes that's right. maybe we will meet in 2008?

Naked Cricket said...

m - you've made the old friend/ delhi "old timer" sound rather old - ghalib? ghazni?
cheers, g

meraj said...

dolphin,
maybe....or perhaps, lets?

naked,
Ghalib is good...why do you want to be a plunderer?

Saman said...

the place is very interesting and enchanting....I am an all time fan of Dilli Haat...infact the Haat makes me look forward to visiting delhi..Infact at one point of time i wanted to be in Delhi jus becoz of Dilli Haat.Makes an excellent evening outing esp in winters and Gals go gaga over the place coz of obvious reasons...Ethnic Shopping!!

meraj said...

thanks for that point Saman...the places is a woman's delight. my post missed out on that one.

cheers!
m

Saman said...

n ur sisters delight too...n ya do remember to try the Fruit beer of Sikkim stall and the Pyaz Kachori of Rajasthan stall the next time u visit the place...its my all time favorite!!

meraj said...

will do so...

meraj said...

just found the business card of the Ektaara player which I had taken from him. He is called Rampal Sarangi Wala and his contact no. is 9873142309 and plays at the parties etc for a nominal charge.