We’ll eat where you eat. Local, cheap food is good, we tell our driver, with the confidence of travellers who have spent countless months in India, eating at all manner of food outlets. He tells us of an idli place in a house just outside of Mysore where each idli costs 1 rupee. We say let’s do it.
We stroll into the bright orange front room of a house. All seats at the table are taken up by hungry locals who eye us up with curiosity more than anything. The owner notices us and makes a mental note to assemble us a plate each. We head into the adjoining purple room and take a seat at the long bench. It’s ok? Shafi asks. It’s very good, we reply.
Tom asks me if I think we need to tell them no butter, no ghee. I say, when have you ever seen butter on idli? He says true and we don’t mention anything.
The doorway frames a couple of people who are clearly trying to work out our story. Two women walk into what is obviously their regular breakfast spot and start giggling as soon as they see us, out of surprise I assume.
Having no plans ever is quite strange, but is often the case when you’re traveling long term. There had pretty much been one date in our calendar since we left the UK and that was the date that Tom’s parents would be arriving in Goa, where we would meet them for some r’n’r and family time by the sea at the end of their 3 week adventure around India. We did however decide on two things pretty early on. The first was that 5 days with the fam was not enough and the second was that there needed to some element of surprise to our time together. This combined with the fact that we LOVE MUMBAI meant we decided to fly into India early and meet Chrissie and Nig 5 days earlier than they were expecting, at the airport in Bombay.
We were both so excited and were seriously counting down the days until we got to see Tom’s parents Aside from the fact that we missed them and were excited to catch up and have massive hugs, we really couldn’t wait to experience India with them. They had been sending us regular whatsapps with wonderful photos of places they had been, all the while we were pretending to still be in Malaysia.
We’ve enjoyed a range of yummy food in Delhi. While there aren’t really many specifically vegan places, there are plenty of options. As most of our time in Delhi was spent resting, we didn’t venture out a whole lot and tended to stick to one main area most of the time. Nevertheless, we did plenty of eating, so here are our finds.
Delhi offers an extraordinary range of street food. Much of this is unfortunately cooked in ghee. Depending on your ability to communicate, you should be able to find certain things that aren’t.
One blisteringly hot day during our extended stay in Delhi, we decided to head out to see some street art. It’s often one of the first things we google when we arrive in a new place and we knew this was going to be a good’un.
Thanks to St+art festival which took place at the beginning of 2016, Lodhi Colony is now awash with colour. Here’s what their site has to say about it:
“St+art Festival is a collaborative platform for street artists from India and around the world. It works on the idea of ‘Art for Everyone’ with the primary objective of making art accessible for wider audiences while having a positive impact on society. The two month long urban arts festivalwill change the visual landscape of the city with art interventions in public spaces through murals, installations, performances, workshops, talks and screenings.”
We were only supposed to stay in the capital for a day as we were supposed to be heading to Kashmir and then on to Ladakh for a 10 day trip with some good friends. Unfortunately we had a bit of a medical issue on our first night in Srinagar so we made the decision to fly back to Delhi the next morning. Short but sweet.
So, 36 hours after when we left Delhi, we found ourselves back at beautiful Tree of Life, an amazing guesthouse run by our now good friends, Ashwani and Suruchi. After a long and tiring journey, the pair greeted us with open arms, warmth and some really good tea. Magic. They helped us get things in order to deal with our medical needs, made calls, offered us lifts and gave us peace of mind.
As you travel from one Indian state to another, you often feel like you have arrived in another country. Stepping off the plane in Kashmir was no exception. We said goodbye to Steve and Sarah in Guwahati and made our way to Delhi so that we could catch a flight to Srinagar.
Arriving in Srinagar was particularly dream-like, as we had to catch our flight from Delhi at 5am, meaning we needed to be up and out of the door by 3.30am.
The first thing to hit us was how clean it was everywhere. The second was the extent of military presence. This of course was to be expected in an area which has essentially been a conflict zone for six decades.
Right. Let’s pick up where we left of. Another day, another Satra. This time we visited the much larger Kamalabari Satra which has been a centre of art, cultural, literature and classical studies for centuries. This was more of a complex and there were several different areas for us to explore, including a small museum. We arrived to the most beautiful singing reverberating around the sparse hallway where monks were sitting on the floor, pigeons flapping about among them.
The last leg of our trip was a three night stay on Majuli, India’s largest river island residing between two channels of the mighty Brahmaputra river. Unfortunately, the effects of climate change have been steadily taking their toll on this picturesque little place. As the river around it has grown, erosion has caused Majuli to shrink. Originally measuring in at 1,250 square kilometres, when measured in 2014, only 352 square kilometres remained. Sadly, with each annual monsoon, Majuli island loses a chunk of precious land and scientists have predicted it may no longer exist in 20 years.
We arrived at the sandy banks of Nimati Ghat where we would board the ferry which would take us across the river and drop us on the Island after about an hour or so. None of us had given much thought to what a ferry in this remote part of the world might actually consist of. To be honest, it’s just as well we hadn’t.
The first thing the boys did when we arrived in Guwahati from Cherapunjee was get a Goddamned haircut. Who did they think they were with their wayward locks and their scruffy beards!?
For guys, a trim is a great experience. For £1 you get a haircut, a cut-throat shave and a head, neck and shoulder massage. Some barbers operate out of small salons, whereas some simply occupy a small section of a wall upon which they hang a mirror. A chair and a few grooming tools are their only other business overheads.
HIYA, we're Tom and Amy. We left the UK in Feb 2016 to explore what the rest of the world has to offer. Amy left her job teaching music and Tom left his making videos. We hope to fill this blog with a combination of musings, creative offerings and useful advice. Let's be inspired! x