KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
After a terrific night’s sleep and a fabulous breakfast prepared by the staff who work for our AirBnB hosts, we decided to go for a walk and explore the neighbourhood. We had been given a manual for the apartment and learned that there were restaurants and supermarkets within walking distance, or a kilometer or so. It was also possible to have outside food delivered, or have lunch and/or dinner at the apartment for an additional cost.
We knew we would be well taken care of for breakfast, and would most probably be with family for the evenings, but we wanted to have some snacks and food on hand as a back up. The area is very residential, with no businesses within the guarded, gated community. This neighbourhood, called Palam Vihar stretches across the boundary of the city state of Delhi, and the neighbouring state called Haryana. For the longest time, much of this area was farmland and eventually, wealthy people bought small plots and had hobby farms, while keeping their homes or apartments in the city.
The neighbourhood where we were staying has recently been developed into an upscale district, that is between these hobby farms, just south of the international airport and the state boundary. The homes are magnificent; the one we are staying in is a large bungalow, the owners live on the main floor, their daughter, son in law and granddaughter live on the second floor, and now they are running the third floor as an AirBnB tourist apartment. They even had an elevator for the owner’s mother to use, but she has since passed away.
On that first morning, we just walked through the leafy streets but didn’t venture outside the gated area. We stopped to admire the beautiful homes, some of them just being built. The community had included a couple of parks, one with children’s play equipment included, and plenty of benches for people to relax on in the afternoons and evenings.
We didn’t venture further afield until a few days later, when Donna wasn’t feeling well and we decided to walk all the way to the nearest grocery store. It seemed much further away that we had expected it to be, as we detoured in and out of neighbouring communities. When we arrived at the shops, we were surprised to see a fairly decent-sized shopping mall, glassed-in and airconditioned.
There was a fairly large grocery store inside and we loaded up on snacks and some fresh fruits and vegetables to take back to the apartment. We planned to walk back, but when we stepped outside, we saw there were some autorickshaws waiting outside. I asked Duncan if he’d ridden in one yet, and he said he hadn’t.
Since there were only three of us, and not four, we knew we could manage to squeeze into one, so we did just that and were back at the apartment before we knew it. The autorickshaw had taken the direct route, along the busy highway, instead of the winding circuitous route that we’d taken when walking.
On our second evening together, we hopped in an Uber and headed over to Ajay’s home to meet up with all the family members who were gathered there. Once there, we decided to take a walk for some exercise and fresh air. We headed over to Ajay’s son’s apartment to pick up Adia and Geoff then on our way back, we got sidetracked at the little mall with grocery shops and small eateries.
The smell of food cooking got us all feeling hungry and we ended ordering some specialities of the house, and then washing it all down with hot chai (tea) served in traditional, unfired clay pots called kullars. The appeal of the clay pots is that they are only used one time and then discarded. But unlike, disposable beverage cups back home, these do not leave any litter.
Back in the days before plastic was introduced to India, to ensure that the kullars are not reused, they were smashed once they were emptied. We have fond memories of our young son’s reaction when he found out he could throw the clay pot out of the train window, after stopping at the station to buy tea. For that reason, we wanted to introduce Duncan to this delightful experience. Thanks to our daughter Adia for her quick thinking, she thought to take a video of us smashing our kullars: