India Diaries: Bracelet Overload

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When I was in India, I went crazy and bought at ton of cheap bracelets from the Dilli Haat market. I basically have sleeves of bracelets in different colours. Here are some of my finds that I’ve been posting on twitter.

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I’m wearing two sets here. The set that looks blue is actually purple.

India Diaries - Market Finds

India Diaries - Market Finds

My friend Sonja got a good picture to some of my bracelets on the weekend.

India Bangles: photo taken by Sonja A
India Bangles: photo taken by Sonja A

I bought a lot of blingy bracelets in India because they were bright and fun. I came home with sets of bracelets but I still wish I bought more.

India Diaries – Akshardham Temple

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I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see the Akshardham Temple properly.

Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi epitomises 10,000 years of Indian culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, beauty, wisdom and bliss. It brilliantly showcases the essence of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spiritual messages. The Akshardham experience is an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values and contributions for the progress, happiness and harmony of mankind.
The grand, ancient-styled Swaminarayan Akshardham complex was built in only five years through the blessings of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) and the colossal devotional efforts of 11,000 artisans and BAPS volunteers. The complex was inaugurated on 6 November, 2005.(Source)

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My coworkers and I were loaded up with our stupid Western gear but you couldn’t bring anything into the temple with you. We opted to stare from outside a bit instead of leaving our stuff in coat check never to be seen again.

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From the outside the temple takes up a massive space. It looks incredible. It’s only when I returned home and saw this video did I realize what I missed. I’m so disappointed.

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India Diaries – Indian Paintings

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Some of my most prize possessions from India were the paintings I bought at Dilli Haat, a market in the heart of Delhi. This experience of buying artwork was interesting because I got to talk to the artist who was from Udaipur. He sat me and a coworker down in his tent. Most merchants in the market would have chairs for customers to sit down at. We poured over his prolific works of art each one more beautiful then the next.

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This is my favourite piece. The richness of the blues just sucked me in. This scan can never replicate just how detailed and beautiful his work is.

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This is the piece that was painted on old government paper. On the reverse side is a some Hindi writing. I have no idea what it says.

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I got these elephant silk paintings for my brother and mother.

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India Diaries – Rickshaw Rides

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For the two weeks I worked at the host company’s office, my coworkers and I have had a fleet of cars to shuffle us back and forth to the hotel. On our last full day of work one of our coworkers arranged a surprise, cycle rickshaw rides. A cycle rickshaw is a pedal cycle with two rear wheels, supporting a bench seat for passengers. Most have a canopy that can raised to block the sun and rain.

Up to this point, some of the group had been on rickshaws already. The rest of us were green and kinda terrified. After experiencing the crazy roads, I was in the latter camp. The hotel organized a bunch of drivers that lined the street outside of the hotel complex. However, there were some drivers that tried to muscle in on the action. I shared a rickshaw with my coworker but most of the group went solo. One of the drivers tried to lure my coworker and I with the sounds of English words. Our driver caught wind of what was going on and a heated argument started. I called the hotel security over to shoo the man away. I didn’t want it to get violent.

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With a line up of about 20 rickshaws along the side of a busy road, it was quickly becoming a Western spectacle. Indians were staring from across the street and a few feet away. It was a little disconcerting for me at this point. Until then, the staring didn’t bother me that much. Morning entertainment I guess.

It was an exciting and terrifying ride. Buses, motorcycles and cars rushed by mere inches from the rickshaw. Horns were honking like crazy. We feared for our lives, there was little laughing. Our driver expertly navigated the roads with ease. The video gives you a taste of the experience.

We got to the office safe and sound. We were given 50 Rupees to pay the drivers with. I had shared a ride with a coworker but I gave the driver the 50 Rupees anyway. I didn’t need it. As I was about to head into the building for work I saw the security guard harassing my driver. Then the driver came back over to me and tried to give me the 50 Rupees back. It was disheartening to be part of this little game. I couldn’t believe the security guard told him to return the money to me. I refused and told the driver he had to keep the money.

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In the end I was glad to experience the rickshaw ride which is a major part of Indian life. It’s just something you have to experience if you are visiting, like seeing the Taj Mahal.

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India Diaries รขโ‚ฌโ€œ Prachin Kari

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After visiting the Taj Mahal we were taken to a marble shop that specialized in created pieces using the same techniques that were used by the workers building the Taj. These techniques haven’t changed in hundreds of years.

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Marble inlay consists of finely chiseling a small layer of marble away in the desired shape. Then semi-precious and precious stones are cut to shape and placed in the marble. These stones included Malachite, Cornelian, Jasper, Lapis, Lazuli, Sapphire, Agate, Mother of Pearl, Conch Shell , Black Onyx, Amazonite Indian Jade, Tiger Eye, Chrysolite, Heliotrope, Coral and Turquoise.

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The technique is called Prachin Kari. The stones are cut using a moving metal wheel. Patterns in marble were drawn using henna dye because it could be washed off after the craftsman chiseled out the designs. A type of glue was used to bond the stones to the marble.

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Many pieces of stone were used to create the detailed designs. It’s painstaking and tedious work. The Taj Mahal uses this technique to display the blooms, flowers and writing as seen in my photos.

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The mausoleum of the Taj where the queen and king are buried really shows of the amazing Prachin Kari work. Like a chump, I obeyed the rules about no photography in the mausoleum so I have evidence of this stunning sight. Of course, all the Indians around me were snapping away inside. As on the road, rules just don’t apply I guess.

P.S. For those of you worried about how I am doing because I mentioned being sick, I’m doing much better. Thank god for antibiotics. ๐Ÿ™‚

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India Diaries – The Taj Mahal

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The Taj Mahal is stunning. I was in awe and even thought the trip there was hell on earth, I was glad I did it to see this marvelous structure. I was a little pissed off at how rushed our time there was. I wanted to spend more time studying the building and the craftsmanship that went into it. I could go off about how bitter I was with the filthy bus we had to take and how sick I am right now but let’s do that another time.

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The Taj was built by Persian royalty, well there 22,000 workers. It’s the ultimate dedication of love. After the wife of the king died he had a dream of the Taj and commissioned many architects to come up with the building from his dreams to dedicate to his dead queen. It took 22 years to complete and is made of pure marble. The queen and king are buried in the Taj and you could see their tombs inside.

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Again pictures do better than words and I’m in no mood to write a lot right now. I’m sick and can’t wait to get home. There will be no trip to Jaipur for me because I can’t stomach another 10 hour day driving through rural India.

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India Diaries Housekeeping

Hi,
While I’m in India don’t expect quick replies to any email sent to me. I’m only replying to the most urgent of email as I’m here for work and don’t have much time for personal business.

I will be back to my regular schedule on Sept 6, 2009.

Thanks

India Diaries – Trident Gurgaon

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So you all enjoyed my business class pics. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. The hotel, Trident Gurgaon is ridiculous. Ridiculous I tell you. It’s like a freaking palace. We arrived at night but I got a chance to get some pictures during the day too. This post is better with pictures and little text. Enjoy.

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India Diaries – What I Learned in Business Class

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So my day job has sent me to India. There has always been opportunities for travel since I work for an international company. I just never really thought I would have the chance. When I got word hat I would be sent to India for 2 to 3 weeks I was initially apprehensive. The thought of spending 17 hours in coach was not appealing to me. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve never gone to Asia. Coach was not to be had on this trip, it was business class all the way. Yippee!!! I really couldn’t believe my luck. I was more excited for the flight than going to India at this point.

At Pearson I had access to the Maple Leaf Lounge. What a treat. Alcohol was available in mass quantities. Everything was self serve. I helped myself to some Baileys lattes. I wasn’t even off the ground and I was already being spoiled beyond belief. I missed the initial call for business class boarding and by the time I made my way over there was a huge line. No worries though, I just went up the gate and presented my boarding pass, instant access, no line. Sweet! The flight left at 6:10pm EST Friday.

The business class pod was out of this world. Flat screen monitor that swiveled for viewing. The seat folded out into a bed. This was flying heaven. The service was impeccable. People called me Miss Clarke. It was disconcerting at first, but I think I could get used to this treatment. Muhahahahaha. The first leg to Brussels was me taking in the experience. I drank champagne, ate, wore the provided pajamas. That’s right people, pajamas. It was awesome.

In Brussels we had access to the Jet Airways lounge for business and first class passengers. The perks of business class is that everyone is working to make you as comfortable as possible. I even took advantage of the complementary showers at the lounge to freshen up for the next leg to Delhi. We arrived in Brussels at about 7am Saturday their time. Man, I hate flying eastward. I pretty much slept from Brussels to Delhi. I actually regretted ordering lunch because I had to be woken up for it. I was super tired at this point and just wanted to sleep through it.

I arrived at Delhi at about 10:15pm their time. At this point I had completely lost touch with what day and time it was. It was just bizarre leaving Friday evening and arrive Saturday night. I had strange interaction with a man at customs. He wanted to give me his phone number so I could invite him to the hotel for tea. Welcome to India, I said to myself. This went down as the man was holding my passport. I was wondering how this was going to go down. Would I be taken away by the army dudes with AK47s since I didn’t take the dude’s number. It was very unnerving but I got away with my passport and no phone number.

Waiting at the airport were drivers from the hotel. It was weird walking down this runway with many Indians standing on the sides with names. It was kinda like a movie. I spotted my name and my coworker and I got out ride to the hotel.

Ahh, the hotel. That’s gonna be post two in the India diaries. ๐Ÿ™‚

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