Connect the dots

Thursday, February 9, 2012

India A to Z

Here's how to spend your time on the sub-continent:

start an Anokhi addiction and shop for gorgeous hand block printed clothes and linens.
watch Aarakshan, a Hindi socio-political film about caste based reservations in education.
get an Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala. 
eat some Burfis - pista, badam, kesar, pick your sweet. 
join the crew on a Bollywood film set in the caves at Badami
watch Bharatanatyam at a temple in Chennai. 
peel a Banana or feed one to a temple monkey.
ride a Caracol across a river. 
cringe at the boy hacking open your Coconut with a machete for the nutritious and refreshing water inside.
explore Delhi by speedy metro and avoid the traffic.  
Dosai for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
ride, feed or help wash an Asian Elephant at a sanctuary.
where are all the Fakirs
read Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat for a good laugh (and a bit of a cry) at students attending India's well regarded engineering institution. 
peel the banana leaf off a Keralan Fish Curry.
feel the spirit of Ghandi-ji. 
break the cycle of reincarnation by taking a dip in the Ganges.
skip big hotels and feel at home at Tree of Life Guesthouse in Delhi. 
admire the Gopurams in a South Indian temple.
stay with the friendliest and most accommodating hosts at Fort Cochin's Daffodil Homestay. 
climb boulders, take in the gorgeous view of rice fields, and marvel in the legacy of the Vijayanagar empire at Hampi
leave it all behind and savor the quiet and green on a backwater Houseboat off Kumarakom or Allepey.  
start the day with Idlis, sambar and chutney.
look out for freshly fried, toothache sweet, glowing orange Jalebis.
stare at Saif Ali Khan (yum) or be bombarded by billboards of the king of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. 
end a meal with a sweet, creamy Kulfi. 
blend in by wearing a Kurta with some salwar pants or churidar.  
get your Kama Sutra on at Khajuraho.
offer Rs10 or some grass to temple elephant Lakshmi and get blessed. 
cool off the chilies with a sweet or salty Lassi.
Malayalam, is it the only language in the world that's a palindrome? 
listen to the excellent Mehranghar Fort and museum audio guide and shop for quality local products in their gift shop.
wear Anokhi's flattering-on-anyone Nehru tunic. 
rip off a piece of buttery, cheesy Naan. 
place a garland on a Nandi.
say OK in Hindi - aacha, Malayalam - shedi, Tamil - sari.
cure your sinus troubles with a Panchakarma treatment. 
eat stuffed Parathas and fresh Papayas
chew on some Paan.
drink Qua, the most expensive bottled water from the Himalayas - Rs 50 for a 200ml bottle.
scoop up your saag with nearly transparent Roomali Rotis
live like a queen and splurge on a night at Roopanghar palace and fort. 
hop on the Indian Railways for a ride away from the smog and noise.
drink a fresh, sweet lime Soda. 
run your fingers through a Mysore Silk, a simple Keralan cotton, or chiffon Sari in any market or silk emporium or just buy one and have a tailor custom make you some western styles. 
suck on the fruit and then spit out the seeds of a Seethaphal.
say Thank You in Hindi - dhany wad, Urdu - shukrya, Malayalam - nani, Tamil - nandri and Kannada - wanda ne golo. 
get around town in a Tuk-tuk. 
indecisive about what to eat? order a Thali and have a little of everything.
make a bee-line to the beautifully painted rooms at the palace or the lake view in Udaipur.
wander through the dung and sadhu-filled streets, sit and contemplate at the ghats, or people watch in Varanasi.
read Aravind Adiga's White Tiger, a dark tale of growing up on one side of the social ladder but ending up on the other.
go to a fancy shopping mall or take the metro but be prepared to get frisked and place your bags through the X-ray machine.
strike a morning Yoga asana with Surya Namaskara.
adopt a lion or an elephant for Rs 100,000 at the Mysore Zoo.

It's no exaggeration, India IS incredible!

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