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To market we go – INA Market

Take two … back to the INA Market as we were having fish for dinner last night.  This ain’t your neighborhood Krogers or Giant Eagle, people.
In an effort to hopefully somewhat adequately describe this experience … I can tell you that INA is a closed market (not open air) and has what seems to be hundreds of shops.  
Shopping at INA Market in New Delhi

From plasticware to shoes, saris and fabrics, vegetables, meat, fish (both live and already processed), live animals, cheeses, grains, spices, stationery, even “American” items like Lucky Charms and Jif peanut butter.


There are no spiffy clean tile floors, no shopping carts and orderly shopping.  There is no hand sanitizer when you first enter, and there is definitely no elevator music to lull your ears while you shop.  


There is no mindless shopping here either … you don’t have aisles and aisles and shelves upon shelves to choose from, while on the other hand, there are some instances of MORE than you could ever imagine to choose from.

As you walk through the maze of shops, shop owners call out to you “Need something today, madam?”  or “What can I get for you, madam?”  It is a noisy experience.  Bargaining and negotiation for the best price is a constant.


The smell is pretty hard to convey.  Tony had a VERY hard time in this environment because of the smell and the heat.  As an adult, I have been able to mentally push past the smells.  It is a combination of all of those spices, the fresh meat, the animals (and all that comes with animals in containers), loads of hot/sweaty bodies, and simply the smell of India, etc. all combines for a pretty powerful sensory overload.


As we walked by the chickens, ducks, roosters and fish — the kids said “awwwwww mom … look at the animals!”


Little did they know that if they wanted chicken for dinner, one less “cute little animal” would still be sitting in that cage.


There was a hysterical situation with a catfish. A woman asked to purchase a catfish … once wrangled out of the blue bucket, he somehow escaped from his plastic bag (en route to be … well … ready to take home for dinner).  He flopped around the market floor for what seemed like an hour as all of the shop owners chased him around.  The kids found THIS rather amusing.

Oh … the fabrics…  I think I’ve gone to heaven.  I canNOT wait until my sewing machine arrives!

I’m going to enjoy our times at the markets!  I am looking forward to trying out Khan, Nehru Place and Dilli Haat after the kids start school!

Qutub Minar

We decided to take some time this weekend to “see the sights” … and headed to Qutub Minar.



The Qutab Minar is 72.5 metres (238 ft) tall with 379 steps leading to the top. The diameter of the base is 14.3 meters wide while the top floor measures 2.75 meters in diameter.

The nearby Iron Pillar is one of the world’s foremost metallurgical curiosities, standing in the famous Qutb complex. According to the traditional belief, anyone who can encircle the entire column with their arms, with their back towards the pillar, can have their wish granted. Because of the corrosive qualities of sweat the government has built a fence around it for safety.

Surrounding the building are many fine examples of Indian artwork from the time it was built in 1193.

A second tower was in construction and planned to be taller than the Qutb Minar itself. Its construction ended abruptly when it was about 12 meters tall.The name of this tower is given as Alau Minar and construction of recent studies shows that this structure has been tilted in one direction. It is made of red sandstone all the way except for two stories at the top.

We had such a wonderful time here … the surrounding greens were peaceful as local families shared picnics … and it wasn’t so busy that I wasn’t able to capture photos without other visitors in the shots.


Of note is the legendary “skin tax” we’d heard so much about.  If we had been Indian residents, our admission fee to see Qutub Minar would have been Rs. 10 (10 Rupees or the equivalent of $0.20) … because we are foreigners however, our admission price was Rs. 250 per head. ($5.23).  Still a bargain and worth every penny, especially since children under the age of 15 are FREE! One of the few times we didn’t have to pay a dime (or a rupee, rather) for Terran!

More information, if you care to read it ::

Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and wishing to surpass it, Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced construction of the Qutb Minar in 1193, but could only complete its base. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more stories and, in 1386, Firuz Shah Tughluq constructed the fifth and the last story. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tughluq are quite evident in the minaret. Like earlier towers erected by the Ghaznavids and Ghurids in Afghanistan, the Qutb Minar comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated by balconies carried on Muqarnas corbels. The minaret is made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur’an. The Qutb Minar is itself built on the ruins of the Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika, the capital of the Tomars and the Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi. The complex initially housed 27 ancient Jain temples which were destroyed and their debris used to build the Qutb minar.[4] One engraving on the Qutb Minar reads, “Shri Vishwakarma prasade rachita” (Conceived with the grace of Vishwakarma), this is thought to have been engraved by the enslaved Hindu craftsmen who built the minar.

The purpose for building this monument has been variously speculated upon. It could take the usual role of a minaret, calling people for prayer in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, the earliest extant mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. Other possibilities are a tower of victory, a monument signifying the might of Islam, or a watch tower for defense. Controversy also surrounds the origins for the name of the tower. Many historians believe that the Qutb Minar was named after the first Turkish sultan, Qutb-ud-din Aibak but others contend that it was named in honour of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, a saint from Baghdad who came to live in India and was greatly venerated by Iltutmish.




Make a Difference Holi Party

Recently, someone got a hair-brained idea that turned into an afternoon of loveliness, fun and memories.

Sally called and asked “What would you think about hosting the Make a Difference (MAD) students at my house for a last minute Holi party?”  Within short order, we had the colors ordered AND delivered, drummers at the ready, snacks, juice, and an invite to all of the students was extended. The Make a Difference Holi Party was on the calendar!

Our family was already pretty “Holi-d” out as we’d attended lots of festivities and gatherings already, but the kids were up for adding another party to our list.

A group of the MAD teachers gathered outside of the area where the students live and walked them to the lawn of the Roosevelt House (where the Ambassador of the United States to India lives with his family). The afternoon was so much fun — watching our students interact with each other while having FUN (instead of just sitting at desks and learning English), and the opportunity to introduce them to my own family was wonderful.
Holi Colors Lloyd Lauland Delhi

Image Credit : Lloyd Lauland

Holi Party

Image Credit : Lloyd Lauland

Colors were flying, the drum beat was infectious and the smiles were huge (which means during Holi that teeth quickly turned all sorts of colors!).

Holi Party Make a Difference Delhi Embassy
Mad Holi 2
Mad Holi 3
Mad Holi 4
Mad Holi 5
Mad Holi 6
Lloyd writes at India Adventure shared some thoughts about the afternoon.  Jump over there to see his photos, but I wanted to share here some of his perspective about volunteerism and sharing of yourself, your time and your energy ::

While all of them [the MAD students and teachers] were united in the traditional colors of Holi on the outside…………I wonder what the “color” of helping someone looks like………….what does the color of volunteerism look like?, what does the color of “feeling good inside” look like?

I am so grateful that I have been able to play a “supporting role” in the volunteering that Linda and Preston have been doing since coming to India………….I am also envious of them…………and wish that my job allowed me the time to contribute to the betterment of someones life while I am in India……… the meantime, I will have to be content with the small behind the scenes help that I am doing…………I think I need to work on my “inside colors”.

What about you? Are you Making a Difference and working on your colors inside? What are your True Colors?……….Happy Holi everyone!

I don’t know about you, but I just loved that.  What say you about whether your “inside colors” match your outer colors? 

Holi Group

Image Credit : Lloyd Lauland

Do you have a desire to help, volunteer, reach out but haven’t made the leap or made a commitment? 

Do you fear you don’t have time, or aren’t sure where to start?


No more bad photos

Russell at In Search of a Life Less Ordinary ran a fun competition once upon a time based on bad photos. Part of the rules stated ::
  1. Pick one bad photo from your travel experiences or expat adventures (‘bad’ in terms of poorly taken, over-exposed, or simply very dated).
  2. Share that bad photo and explain why you wish you could recapture that moment again.

All of the pictures demonstrate me in a harried state.  They were all taken in the time between knowing we needed to leave India and the time that we could announce that we WERE leaving India. I was desperate to capture every little thing that explained the experience that I had been given.  I wanted to soak it all up and keep it forever, in case it was erased the minute I boarded the flight for home.

If I could do it over though, I would realize that what makes the memory is not the actual “click” of the photo (or the push of the camera button on the phone).  What makes the memory is the association of your time and energy, and how that connects to the image that was captured.

All of the photos that you saw above were moments that were meaningful to me for so, so many reasons … yet because of the quality you would never know it.

When I don’t take time to follow through with an intention with quality … quality to match the integrity of the moment, it is all lost.

At first glance you see four people on a motorbike.  Common in India, but a classic photo that visitors to the country take, because it’s abnormal in other parts of the world.  [What I should have paused to capture was the laughter of these little ones on the back of this bike.  What I missed because I was paying very little attention was the uproarious laughter that then followed from the bike master]

This guy worked tirelessly near our home preparing lunch for the nearby shop owners, construction workers, etc.  I stealthily caught this photo on my camera phone as I walked the littles to the playground, when instead I could have taken the time to ask permission for a photo and captured the moment in a much better light.

So much happens at this corner and if I would have stopped for two minutes and asked Kushal to let me out, I would have captured a much more interesting vignette of this intersection.

4 steps to the right or left and I could have been witness to a story of how this man makes his living every day, or even if I had stayed another 10 minutes, I could have found out the story of the customer as well.  Was this a favorite place to stop for lunch, or was it his first time?  How long had the vendor been selling on this corner.  More importantly to the story of what I missed … WHAT was he even selling?  I need to stop longer, if I want the story behind the photo.

The blue village near Vasant Kunj.  The slum that was covered up during the Commonwealth Games of 2010.  My favorite place to people watch.  This is — I am embarrassed to say — the best photo I have of one of my favorite places in Delhi.  [Why did I not ever take the time to walk through, take some photos and introduce myself?]

For all of those reasons, and so many more … I wish I could capture the moments again.

India is a country that is extreme and rich in its experiences, moments, culture, family and even in its idiosyncrasy.

To understand it without having lived there is impractical.

Trying to understand it while living there is ridiculous.

To attempt to understand it after you’ve left feels impossible.

One of the things that India taught me is to be more intentional with my photographs and to take more time, to pause, and get the entire story.  I hope I can put it into practice more now that I’ve left.