Reblogged: Holiday Vacay Round-up: New Year in New Delhi

Reblogged is a series of blog posts on my life in India coming from the weblogs I set-up. It’s an attempt to put the stories all in one place! The post Holiday Vacay Round-up: New Year in New Delhi was originally posted on January 12, 2013. I spent the New Year celebrations in Delhi with VSO co-volunteers, the welcoming family of Tito Ben and Tita Agnes, and friends. This was part of my south-to-north holiday vacation from December 23, 2012 to January 7, 2013.

This is a part of the Holiday Vacay Round-up Series. For Goa, the Christmas destination, click here.

After spending Christmas in Goa with co-vols Sue and Rosie, and her twin Penny and Pen’s BF Tom, and my friend Leah and fellow CouchSurfer Sumin (who were both hosted by my former CS host Warren), I proceeded to New Delhi, where I’ll celebrate the coming of 2013 with fellow Filipinos and VSO volunteers! Plus the wedding of Minrose and Shishir (which provided an opportunity for us to wear sarees!) and Rajie and Pras’ housewarming party!

 

But before that, I had to take a 43-hour train ride first from Madgaon in south Goa to H Nizamuddin in New Delhi! It was supposedly just a 38-hour journey but due to the fog in the capital of India, we were delayed for 5 hours! This train ride with Goa Express is the longest I have taken, beating the 36-hour journey from Bhubaneswar to Mumbai last October!

Anyway, it was an ok ride, not as warm as the 26-hour journey from Mumbai to Chennai in August and definitely not as cold as the overnight New Delhi to Amritsar journey that I was yet to know of at the time. So yeah, relatively pleasant. From a section with female travelers heading to Pune, the 2nd day was of an entire family–children, mom, and grannies! I also liked the traveling group in the side bunks, composed of adult male friends who went on a Goa holiday! I liked them more coz they helped me find the Rs 15 bus to Mamu Rose’s house, instead of taking an auto for Rs 150-200!

When I got to Mamu’s place, Den and Conie are already up and enjoying the not-yet-killing-freezing-cold and they informed me that before going to the wedding, we’re supposed to go for dinner at the home of another Filipina living in New Delhi with her American husband (who turned out to be a high-ranking UN officer and a debater too!) who are friends with Tita Agnes and Tito Ben (from IRRI and from the Church).

Sinigaaaaang on a cold Delhi winter day!

 

There, we also met Len and Armindar (Fil and Indian couple who met in IRRI too! – parang gusto ko magtrabaho sa IRRI bigla! hahaha) and their daughter Anushka, who are also neighbors with Tita and Tito. There’s also Tita Antonia who is also married to an Indian guy, living in Goregaon. So basically, it’s a yummy dinner plus interaction with Filipinos and their better halves! 🙂 And cute kid Anushka too!

Posterity Photo with our hosts Tita Zeny and husband Peter

 

After the dinner, we went for the wedding. Actually, just passed by the wedding venue as, having a of fun in the dinner, we weren’t able to make it to the ceremony itself. So, we just dropped by to say hello and saved our sarees for the next day, the grand finale, the Reception!

The Bride and Groom (red outfits) with their family members

 

So, that night, we slept at Tita Agnes and Tito Ben’s house after gathering our things from Mamu’s home. As it was Sunday the next day, we also went to the Cathedral, near Tita Agnes’ house, where they usually go to hear the Mass.

And I would emphasize the usual a bit more: after the Mass, the next destination is KFC at Connaught Place and then window/actual shopping at Janpath Market! Since I was actually on a “mission” to buy souvenirs and things to bring back home during this trip, I indulged into a bargaining morning with the Didi selling the embroidered wall hangings and cushion covers on the street!
Wall hangings and cushion covers — my loot at Janpath!

 

After shopping, we returned to the relatively warmer sanctuary of Tito Ben’s home with the comfort of Tea and Coffee, unlimited! 🙂 We watched some movies too, including the very long Bodyguard (without subtitles!) starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor! I’ve seen it before already so I was kinda explaining what’s happening to Den, who can’t stop uttering “samuka!” all the time! HahahahAfter the movie, we prepared for the reception and tried to drape ourselves! Note, we allocated about two hours for this! 🙂 I tried to do what Ratna taught me while draping Mamu’s red cotton Bengali saree but for some reason, I can’t get it right!

Saree draping (photo stolen from Den’s blog)

 

Conie even played a YouTube video on how to drape a saree! Den was lucky as her saree is something like ready-to-wear without too much draping required! When I tried to drape my Benares (according to the seller!) saree, I finally understood what I was doing wrong and was able to drape correctly. I think we were using the Nivi style of wearing the saree. I had a hard time with the pallu though! Argh! My pallu is just a bit too stubborn!

I did get the seal of aproval from Ratna on the draping! hehe the bottom poses are probably Bengali-draping already, without pleats)

Once we were all ready, we trooped to the wedding venue, presenting ourselves as part of the Bride’s party! (Minrose’s mom is Mamu’s bestfriend!).

Tita, Mamu, Me, Arlene, Tita Agnes, Conie, Tito Ben, Minrose’s Sister, and Tito

 

We were “terribly outnumbered” as in probably 1:50 ratio. haha. I guess that’s also why we had an entire team of F&B servers, eagerly awaiting our orders! As in they were literally hanging around, three meters max from the table! It was such a fun and yummy night!

The day after the reception, we got ready for another party. This time, it’s the New Year’s Eve get together hosted by Tito Ben and Tita Agnes. Not only that, it’s Mamu’s birthday too! So, of course, it’s a night of food and drinks and fun! Apart from the Filipino vols, Olwen (VSO UK) also came as well as Arjun (Nepalese on a fellowship program), and couples Len and Arminder.

1fd68-newyear
Olwen started the party already! Food: pesto pasta, paneer tikka, chicken tikka, Nepali chicken adobo-ish, grilled fish, lumpiang shanghai (chana), mutton masala, chocolate cupcakes and strawberry cheesecake! Drinks: wines from Goa and Sula, beers, cashew fenny (lambanog), and Vodka!

Foodie Highlight: strawberry cheesecake by Tita Agnes. My first cheesecake in India. SARAP!!!

 

It was a great night of cooking, eating, drinking, chatting, laughing and dancing! Though we are far from our families, we celebrated as one family and had a blast. Nope, we didn’t light fireworks as was usual nor did we bang on pots and pans. Nobody wore polka dots too! What we did do is throw some coins around the house, which were all picked up by Anushka. Then thrown by her again. hahahaha

Tita and Tito, Arlene, Me, Mamu, Len, Den, Conie, Olwen, Arminder, Anushka, and Arjun
The next day, at New Year’s Day, we returned to the Church for Mass, and then to KFC, and as you guessed, to Janpath! I was quite in a hurry though as I am scheduled to meet Julie (yep, my Irish co-vol from Bhubaneswar) and her parents. They spent Christmas and New Year holidays in the northern triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. I met them at Qutub Minar, the last of the monuments I wanted to see in Delhi.

Cold and Foggy! (that’s Qutb Minar at the back)

 

Juls and I were able to get the Indian rate as we presented our residency certificates! 🙂 Yey! Once inside, we just chatted about their trip so far and discussed our placements (as usual) and plans of going home! (I’ll miss Juls!) Of course, we also appreciated the monument itself and I tried my “tour guide best” to explain some stuff about the monument and the people to Bernadette and Patrick! Well, as James Ingram would sing, I did my best but I guess my best wasn’t good enough. Hahaha. I blame it on the confusing fact/fiction I got from the “Empire of the Moghuls” book series that I’ve read!

Hallway in Ruins
Anyway, Bernadette was probably too engaged with feeding the squirrels to notice and Patrick was too engrossed with figuring out whether it’s colder in Delhi or in Belfast. hahaha. just kidding. 🙂 I think they didn’t mind as the monument speaks out for itself anyway!

After Qutub Minar, we went to Hauz Khas. To have food and coffee! There we were met by Rajie, who was not able to go to the New Year Party and promised to meet us there instead. After some food, we decided to call it a night. Well, at least for Juls and her folks. I told Juls I’ll try to meet them up again the next day, just before I go on my trip to Amritsar. Meanwhile, Rajie and I decided to stay back for the Happy Hours at the Pink Room in Hauz Khas and have our girlie time. (eeeewwww for the term. hahaha) We were later joined by her fiancee Prasanna, our former CS host in Mumbai! Both have recently moved to Delhi.

Pras Raj and G

 

And then, the next day, 2 Jan, I met Juls and her folks again (Patrick was wearing a hat due to the cold weather!) at the Gandhi Smriti. This was my second time already (third for Juls!), the first one being in March during our ICO stay. From here, we proceeded to Khan Market for some late lunch and shopping, mostly by Juls and Bernadette. I admire Patrick for his patience. hehehe

Coffee and Tea with the Grants

 

After warming ourselves a bit with coffee and tea (and Juls giving me a nice scarf (ine-enjoy ko talaga! ebidensya sa Amritsar at Jaipur!) plus “the-one-thing-I-always-search-for-but-almost-always-never-find-in-India (a fridge magnet, of the Ireland flag!), we all headed back to their guesthouse and my train station (which are just meters apart!). I took a photo of them enjoying the auto ride (I’ll ask Juls for a copy!) and I am happy for the three, coz I know they had a great time celebrating the holidays here in India, even though they’re away from the kids! (I enjoyed their company too! I think they’re, I don’t know, funny or something. I mean, it’s easy to laugh with them and all. Especially when I don’t understand their accents!)

I was a bit sad though, coz it probably is the last time I’ll see Juls. Unless of course I go to UK (as Northern Ireland is a UK territory) or she goes to Philippines. Hmmm, that is a happy thought! After bidding them goodbye, the autowallah brought me to H. Nizammudin where I waited for the train that will take me to Amritsar in Punjab! (The NorthWestern Journey, up next!)

FastForward: After Amritsar and before Jaipur, I was able to squeeze in Raj and Pras’ housewarming party. 🙂 It was cold, so we needed to get warm. Or something. lol. Anyway, cheers to a great future for the couple!

Housewarming party

 

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