Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Shopping on Janpath – patri – street or flea market

Revisting Janpath, yes despite being in Delhi, I had not shopped there in ages. Sangeeta (my sis-in-law) and to be doctor niece (Ananya) were the reason for this re-visit. Their enthusiasm for the shopping was infectious. The place looks the same but the pavements are full of artificial jewellery in metal, clothes, home furnishing and more. It took half an hour, for the old enthusiasm for Janpath and the bargaining prowess to take hold. And then it was three cheers to shopping, shopping and shopping… in my Dad’s parlance – buying, buying and buying..

The pedestrian road from the open area before New Book Land, till the road connecting Jeevan Bharati is lined with shops on both sides selling a humungous variety of jewellery and clothes. It is in junk jewellery, it revels. There are neck pieces, very unique for garba, for simple night outs, for gifting. The patterns and designs are refreshing and the choice is huge. Almost all shapes and sizes of ornaments are covered. We came across kundan neckpieces with enamel work at the back, looked nice, inexpensive and fun to wear. There were snake shaped gold coloured bangles twisted like a spring. There were mang tikkas, arm bands, baju bands, pajebs, nose clips, baalis, chaand baalis…

The other attractions, clothes in a huge range. With winter not yet having made its appearance when we visited a few days before Diwali, clothes were predominantly for summers. So short skirts, tops, patchwork pyjamas, shorts, leather skirts, crop tops, shirts, ponchos, hoodies, T-shirts with attractive images and slogans were everywhere. Bling is still in and one can see it a host of cropped tops .

Nostalgia - Janpath was a huge draw for all of us while studying. It had the maximum of export rejects and one could get the best of clothes at throw away prices. Of course, it came at a price at being shouted at back home (my mother) for picking up rags. Though that is another story that I was initiated into Janpath and its fun aspects by my Dad. He had an eye for the unusual and picked up some great stuff. And even I felt it had some outstanding stuff. There was the Annapoorna Restaurant which served some good cakes. Sadly it is closed.  

Shop Timings – 10 onwards is a good time. Think it is open till 8 pm in the evening. It is open all the 7 days of the week. The pucca shops may be closed on Sundays.

WhereJanpath Footpath market, near the Indian Oil building.

Highlights – There is a man selling excellent brass ware affordable in the middle of the market. The bags in the beginning of the huge open space near New Book Land, the circular book shop in the middle of Janpath behind the Indian Oil building.

Insider Tip – Depaul’s is still there, but it is not what it was. The lemonade and ginger ale counter does not work. Though the range of cold coffee available has increased and it is DELICIOUS. There are host of flavours from hazelnut, mocha, cappuccino, vanila. It comes in take away bottles with the brandname on the bottle. Very different from what the ambience once was. But still popular. There is a stall selling Momos outside which is equally filling and tasty. The paneer momos were specially good. There ia another Dolma Aunty Momo shop next, which we did not try. The Bookstore next to it which used to always buzz with activity again sadly was not open. Depaul’s used to be such a cool hangout…well things do change.

While Shopping – bargain and bargain, 50% upwards thumb rule. Though once you buy a few products, you will get the hang of it.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Eating Out in Delhi...watch for more updates

Food glorious Food….thus the song from Oliver captures our relationship with food. Recently food has been subjected to more than its fair share of publicity and coverage. Yes social media is chock a block full of food articles, write ups, cookery shows, recipes, what is coming as a revelation is that Delhites seem to be favouring eating out more than anyother activity. I am serious…really… at the recent Dastkar exhibition at Kisan Haat, I was told by a participant that most visitors come straight and visit shops which are opposite the food court and then go straight for the food. Stomach satiated, it is back to their homes. Even a cursory shopping activity is not undertaken.

Similarly at the Swiss Embassy Christmas Market, the food section was crowded to the hilt in comparison the shopping at the various stalls was slightly lower. I will not say business was bad but the food stalls did thriving business.

What further adds to the Delhi palette is its easy adaptability. Be it Chinese, Italian, Thai, Lebanese, Middle East, French…it is simply absorbed in. And I am not making any remark on the adapting the food for the Indian palette be it the ginger garlic tadka with pasta.. So dining joints, restaurant, take away and what not thrives…

Delhi is a huge melting pot of influences which is amply reflected in its cuisine. Today, the melting pot assimilates national, international cuisine, some cuisine “adapted” to Indian taste well – Chinese a huge example in this direction. Delhi offers innumerable places to eat, each having its own traditional offering. The food palette includes almost all kinds of food from India and a delectable spread of International Cuisines. Traditional Indian food is classified apart from geographical bearings as per caste, religion. The nuances are plenty as also the range of spices, condiments and vegetables, fruits, cereals, meat, rice …that is added.

The Capital’s foodaddiction includes the classy Chandni Chowk fare – the Delhi Bania style of cooking in pure ghee without the use of onions, garlic, the Mughal style of kababs, biryani, the Punjabi touch of Pindi chole, Rajma chawal…Regional cuisine can be tasted from spicy Andhra Fare, Namma Tamil sapadu (Karol Bagh, Lodhi Road..), Malayali fare of puttu…Gujarati, Rajasthani snacks and thalis, Parsi, Iranian, Anglo-Indian fare…..Yes, it is food lover’s paradise. No pun intended, a friend’s husband on a visit to Delhi from Kerala, asked in all innocence “don’t people cook at homes, the food stalls are always so very crowded”!!!

This section tries and captures some of the best to be indulged in Delhi. No, this is neither a “eating out of the street” kind of a vengeance section neither “oh how can they eat street food – with emphasis only on chic upmarket cuisine” atitude. But in turn it is a slave to the taste buds, yes anything that tastes good, is different, has you ruminating about its glory during the day and pursuing it salivating in your dreams. Being a vegetarian, an eggetarian to be precise, the non-veg food section might not be justifiable but I shall make amends with recommendations from die hard “only non-veg” friends!

Happy Eating (Munching, Lunching, Snacking……..) Hopefully, we will also do individual stories or a little round up of the eating joints we love and frequent, post New Year…(Fingers crossed that this Resolution will be kept!!!)

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Desi Oon Festival - The world of Indigenous Wools

It is usually believed that wool in India is used only in the North and certain parts of Eastern India where it is cold.  The sources of wool – sheep, goat, camel, buffalo, yak and more. The population of the animals is scattered across the country. The pastoral community keeping alive the bio-diversity and cross breeding amongst the breeds. The pastoralists controlling large flocks of animals migrate taking with them the animals. The major wool though is sheep. India has the world’s second largest population of sheep. Indian wool is rough and does not find too many takers. Desi Oon is an initiative to ensure that it is lucrative for the pastoral community to produce wool and make it into value added products. The products are something that one will fall in love with. Though slightly coarse as compared to the merino, the design and muted colour combination are eye catching. Several partner organisations each doing stellar work – Kulvi Whims, Shepherds of Himalayas, Khamir, Urmul, Avani,Miyar Mufflers…


When – 7th to 11th December 2023 (held approximately at the same time every year) –     


Where – Triveni Kala Sangam – Tansen Marg


Timings – 11 am to 7 pm


Highlights – Scarves, stoles, throws, shawls, coats, dhurries, knits. Beautifully designed festivals. The live demonstrations by craftsmen – be it spinning or weaving. A beautiful cottage from Ladakh which demonstrates the use of wool to keep it insulated. A new fabric launch – wool for thermal and impact protection. We will cover this later.


Insider Tips – Insulation using wool has been displayed for the first time. Camel products using camel milk – cheese, chocoates… The colours of the products are beautiful and understated. Several using organic and natural colours. Ladakh felts which are akin to paintings. Enjoy the food at the Triveni Terrace Café…

Monday, December 4, 2023

Christmas market at the Swiss Embassy – Swiss-German Christkindl Market 2023

It’s the time to….fa la la la….yess…Ho Ho….red dress, red caps, long white beard, Christmas Tree, gingerbread and more… There is something to December, which brings in its wake a season of joy, laughter, love and everything that is nice. The season in Delhi kicks off with a number of Christmas Markets. When I was a child, it used to be Christmas Mela on Janpath and how beautiful it was decorated. That does not happen now but leading the way are a host of Christmas Markets organized by the various Embassys. With the numbers growing, several overalp with one another. The one at the Swiss Embassy, was wonderful, cosy and yes Happening…but that would be wrong to describe a Christmas market. It was personalized, happy and celebrated the true Christmas spirit with joy. The abundance of food, shopping, activity centre just set the stage for spending a nice Sunday afternoon. With my dear friend Rita in tow, we reached early..before 12 and spent a good 3 hours laughing and enjoying ourselves. The point of attraction was the stall by August Collectives (my gutsy friend Punita’s brand). It was her invite which drove us to Chanakyapuri. It is always a pleasure going to that area, which reminds one of what Delhi once was. The wide roads, perfectly manicured gardens and open spaces. The drive well worth the trouble. Good vibes, good music and a very friendly set of people. The shopping area had some excellent products and easy on the purse too. There were dolls from Silaiwali, mittens, knitted items from another NGO, Kashmiri handicrafts with some beautiful stoles and shawls. Upcycled bags from vintage embroidered pieces, cushion covers woven from old sarees on khadi, wooden artifacts for Christmas, wellness products, cakes by the droves, salad bowls, cake stands, cutlery, bar accessories at Punita’s August Collectives. Seabuckthorn juice, Tarot reading with tea….

Timings – 11 am to 5 pm 

Where - 2nd and 3rd December at the Swiss Embassy (Embassy of Switzerland), Chanakyapuri. (Most fairs are held end November or early December – the first weekend) 

Entry Fees – It was Rs. 400/- this year, with the ticket to be bought at the gate. 

Highlights - The food court with Apple Strudel and Apple Juice from the German Bakery, based in Delhi. Mull wine and pancakes. Stall selling cookies, chocolates and other things imported from Switzerland. Some beautiful embroidered napkins, table mats, covers from craftsmen and NGOs.

Insider Tip – An excellent weekend fun, good food, good music and a nice ambience. It reminds one of what most Delhites used to do during weekends once upon a time…yes have picnics in open parks dotting the city. It was a time before the malls took over. The Malls…well that is another story and blog.. and I do like them too…😊😊

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