Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cricket, Part 2

Well, yesterday was the semi-final match between India and Pakistan. All news outlets in the country were focused on the match. The prime minister of India invited the prime minister of Pakistan to sit with him (the tension between the two countries is ongoing). From 2:30 on when the match began, everyone in school was watching if they possibly could.

A large screen was set up in Parker Hall so students and staff could watch. Some teachers dismissed their classes so the kids could see the match. There were also a number of staff members in the Lyons Staff Lounge area near the Tea Garden.

When India won, around 10:00 PM, there was much yelling and shooting off of firecrackers. I could hear it easily in my room. Dan only saw the beginning and end, as he was traveling to Meerut in preparation for going to Mumbai for the final match on Saturday. A dream come true for him, and having India actually in the final match is the icing on the cake!

This view is from the side balcony; you can see the large screen.

Many of the students had Indian flags painted on their faces.

Staff as well as students were engrossed in the match.

Some students hung an Indian flag off the front of the balcony.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


If you are in the U.S., you are probably not aware that the quadrennial Cricket World Cup is going on right now in South Asia. Cricket originated in England and is played primarily in Commonwealth countries. It is by far the most popular game in India. When you go through the countryside on a train or by car, you will see children (mostly little boys) playing cricket everywhere, with whatever they can find for a makeshift bat.

Traditionally, cricket test matches last five days, consisting of four innings, each team batting and bowling (pitching) twice. For World Cup Cricket, the match is one day, with one innings and a limited number of overs (six bowls or pitches). The first team bats until the overs are completed or it is out and the second team bats until it is out or has more runs than the first team. (I'm sure you can find a more comprehensive description online if you are interested.)

The World Cup matches have been almost daily since starting the second week of February. They generally start around 2:30 PM and go until 10:00 or so. Matches have been in South Asia -- India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Pakistan has a team but could not provide the level of security needed to host matches. Last night was the first semifinal -- New Zealand lost to Sri Lanka. Today is the biggest match of all -- India vs. Pakistan. It is being held in Mohali, near Chandigarh in the Punjab. It is not very far from the Indo-Pak border. Security is very tight and we have heard that scalpers are selling tickets for one lakh and more (about $2400 or so).

Dan came to India in February to watch the matches live on TV with his friend Brij. They got tickets (regular price!) for one match in Delhi which they enjoyed very much. Brij is in Mohali today to see that match. And the two of them are going to Mumbai Thursday to see the finals with their friend Tom. Dan became a cricket fan when we taught at Woodstock in the 1970s -- Brij was the coach of the school team. So this visit has been a long-awaited pleasure for him.

I just learned this winter that Comcast/Xfinity is now broadcasting the Neo Cricket channel, so I suspect there may be more cricket in our future!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weekend in Meerut

We spent Saturday and Sunday visiting our friends the Lals in Meerut. We've been friends since we were next-door-neighbors in 1969 and our oldest children were toddlers. Dan has spent the past six weeks staying with them while watching World Cup cricket matches. It was mostly a quiet, relaxing time, especially as I was recovering from my jet-lag.

Sunday for lunch we went to a favorite spot of theirs that makes chole-batura, a popular street-food meal. Chole is a chickpea curry and batura is a deep-fried bread made of white flour, somewhat similar to a poori (whole-wheat flour) but puffier.

View from the back seat, Dan on left, grandson Jason in center, and Brij driving on right (remember, driving is on the left side of the road in India --- usually!).

The Chole store at the side of the road. It's a popular spot.

Baturas frying on the left, newly cooked ones on the platter.

Condiments served include pickled carrots and green chilis and onions.

The eating area is crowded and not considered suitable for ladies, so Viola and I sat in the car and waited for a plate to be brought to us. While waiting, this cow brushed right up against our car.

Here is the plate. Notice it also includes two gulab jamuns for dessert. Jason ate batura pieces from both of us in the back seat.

On returning home, Brij parked the car in the front area of their house. It's hard to imagine how it fits in there, but it does. He has mastered the skill of backing in perfectly, with the right side of the car almost touching the wall (the side mirror is folded in). He then has to move into the passenger seat to exit the vehicle.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Supper in Delhi

We spent only one day in Delhi before leaving for Meerut. We decided to pick up a few things for our supper and eat in our hotel room, rather than going out. There is a nice sweet shop not far from the hotel and we got 2 fresh samosas (triangular fried pastry dough stuffed with potato and pea curry), an onion kachori (also fried dough but stuffed with onions; dal is more common), and a special lassi (sweet yogurt drink) topped with thick cream. We also got two loose-skinned oranges (yes, they are ripe even though they are green) and a few bananas. The little bag is a chutney for the samosas. I have to say I had one samosa and a few spoonfuls of the lassi below the cream, plus the fruit. It was enough!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday in Delhi

Sometimes we stay several days in Delhi, but this time we are leaving after one day. I slept pretty well (with a little medical help). Our room at the Bon Lon Inn is quite comfortable. The fan keeps it cool enough without the A/C. The weather is very warm, but still bearable.

The hotel room includes a buffet breakfast. Poories, allu baji (potato curry) and hard-boiled eggs. Toast is also available, as well as juice and tea. I chopped up my egg and had egg curry with my one poori.

We went out for a walk in the bazaar. The sweepers had already been at work sweeping up debris of leaves and garbage on the sides of the streets. Someone else will come along and load this stuff into a cart and haul it away.

The vegetables on this cart all looked wonderful and fresh. Even broccoli was available.

We made a quick late-morning trip to FabIndia where I found two nice tops to add to my collection. They are shirts that will work well both here and in the US. After noon we stopped by the Subway restaurant owned by our friend Vinay. It turned out to be at the far opposite end of Karol Bagh from our hotel, so we had a good walk. He was on his way from home, so we waited and had a good visit with him. After a rest in the afternoon, we took the Metro to Janpath and the Tibetan shops to visit our old friend Doma. Her grandson Tashi now runs the shop most of the time, but she was there today. Always good to see her.

Walking back to our hotel at dusk, I took this photo of the sign for our hotel. We are off on the 7 AM train to Meerut tomorrow morning.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Travel Karma

I have always hoped to be upgraded to Business or First Class on one of my many long-haul flights. Unfortunately, that has never happened :-( Once we got into Economy Plus on British Airways thanks to a friend of a friend who worked for BA.

For this trip (nonstop Chicago to Delhi) I had signed up for an aisle seat at the end of a 5-seat inside row (777 configuration is 2-5-2). As I checked it throughout the last week or so, the middle 3 seats were empty and I had visions of being able to lie down to sleep. It was still open before my swimming group Wednesday morning, but when I got home they had filled up. There was an aisle seat open on an outside row nearby, so I switched my seat. (I figured it would be better to have one person crawling over me than 2 or 3!) As we got onto the plane, I noticed that the seat next to me was empty. Before I knew it, they were closing the doors and no one had arrived. So I had a double seat to myself, plus two sets of pillow and blanket. I was able to get my feet off the floor and (sort of) lie down to sleep. Plus I just didn't have to deal with another person in those close quarters. It turned out many of the center seats that had looked filled were actually empty, too, but I was happy with my double. I went to sleep shortly after takeoff and didn't fully wake up until we were about 6 hours away from Delhi. (13+ hour flight). I missed dinner (no great loss) but they left me a snack pack so I had something to eat when I woke up. However, the apple in my handbag was the best-tasting. They served us breakfast about 90 minutes before landing -- veg cutlets and paneer tikka with fresh fruit. Sorry, no pictures.

We landed about 8:00 PM. My India cell phone still had a charge and I called Dan. By 9:00 I was through Immigration, Baggage, and Customs, met Dan outside and we got into a prepaid taxi. It's not even 10:00 and I've had a shower and unpacked the little that is necessary for the next two nights. Now I'll find out if I'll sleep...