In the summer of 2018, I travelled to India for the first time with my family. As a British born Indian girl I was excited to discover my roots and explore my heritage. I wrote an article about my experiences on Gal-Dem so give it a read!
But what did I learn about the specifics of the Indian way of life which is a contrast to the British Indian way of life? Visiting my family in India really solidified this. I decided to write a blog post about it!
- It’s common for people to eat on the floor at mealtimes. Sitting cross legged with a plate of bateta shaak ( potato curry) on my plate, eye level with my family I found myself eating more mindfully, really taking in the taste and visual imagery of the food. As I was balancing food on my lap, I couldn’t really eat and scroll brainlessly through my phone at the same time
- Even though I’m Indian, I found there was a stark contrast to the way I was viewed by Indian natives. It was obvious I was a tourist from everything to the way I dressed to the way I spoke (more on that in the next post). Relatives would often ask me if I spoke Gujarati (my mother tongue) and I would hear workers talk about me thinking I couldn’t understand them.
- The blunt inequality was made blindly obvious to the amount of adult and child beggars on the streets. It forced me to appreciate the fact that I had a roof over my head and food and I that I was travelling India as a tourist, able to visit restaurants and stay in hotels.
- Family and culture share different vibes to the UK. The relationship between caste and marriage is a significant value in Indian culture whereas in the UK, it is more overlooked.
- The driving in India is WHACK. Constant speeding, hanging on for dear life and cows in the way! There are no rules.
- In parts of India, it is the norm to dress modestly, no miniskirts and keep shoulders covered. People will stare.
- Navigating the markets is a strength. Big contrast to Camden. People’s persuasion will be dialed up to a 100 and you will have to put your bargaining skills to the test.
- If you think Indian food in the UK is good you’ve underestimated how unbelievably Peng and beautiful the food is in India. I developed a serious addiction to Aloo Parathas at breakfast with Indian tea and don’t get me started on the Paneer.
If you enjoyed my post, read my article on Gal-Dem for a deeper discussion on how I reclaimed my roots: https://gal-dem.com/wanderthirst-reclaiming-my-roots-in-india/
Let me know what you think in the comments x
An artificial lake which is perfect for boating trips and taking in the mesmerising scenery across Udaipur, Lake Pichola is well worth a visit. Lake Pichola also contains palaces, museums, temples and restaurants if you tire of checking out the stunning waters, (which you won’t obvs). The boating trip starts from Rameshwar Ghat and takes visitors to island Jagmandir where tourists can explore and feel like royalty. Check those quarters out!
Checking out Jagmandir made me feel like I was a queen checking into my luxury retreat without a care in the world. Butlins, take note. The attraction has been converted into a small hotel with just seven hotel rooms but also a restaurant, bar and spa which is pefect if you’re craving a luxury holiday away from the perils of society in your own little island.
Another magnificent palace? India is truly spoiling us. City Palace is also the largest palace in Rajesthan. The palace exhibits a blend of Rajasthani, Mughal, Chinese and European culture. Take a look at the beautifully designed women’s quarters Zenana Mahal which has been converted to a museum, perfect for curious people like me who want to gawp at what would have been my home if I’d been a rich Rajesthani Princess.
Jagdish Temple was a beautiful mandir situated outside the royal palace. I loved seeing the beautiful temples in India which were a world away from the ones in my hometown. The temple is mainly devoted to Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God who is the preserver of the Universe.
My next stop after Jaipur was of course, Jodhpur, likened to the being the ‘blue’ city in contrast to Jaipur’s pink paradise. Full of beautiful scenery, more magnificent architecture and colours, I was excited to see it.
The main stop on my Jodhpur Jaunt was architectural beauty, Mehrangr Fort. The fort is 410 feet above the city and boasts terrific views. It also contains a road leading to the city which is great if you want to do your exploring on foot.The fort divides up several palaces which are a must-see such as Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Zenana Dude, Takht Vilas, Jhanki Mahal.There are also two temples. From paintings to palanquins, Mehrangr Fort is showcases the wonderful scenery of Northwestern India as well as a majestic palace. The fort and museum also contains pieces of heritage art includng costumes, carvings and decoarations.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see as much in Jodhpur due to time constraints, but on my next visit I will journey to sights such as Bal Samand Lake, Mandore Garden, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park and Kaylana Lake.
I must apologise for the backlog of India posts that I haven’t uploaded but quarantine has given me the chance to finally update these and post it!
Known historically as ‘The Pink City’, Jaipur exceeds expectations to become a terracotta paradise. But why is it called ‘The Pink City?’. The Maharaja of Jaipur sought to impress Prince Albert during his trip to India in 1876. This included building lavish buildings and gardens as well as repainting the city pink in order to create an atmosphere of hospitality. To this day, the pink colour scheme remains.
My exploration started with arriving at the Pearl Palace guesthouse which blew my mind. A heritage hotel, it combines traditional indian architecture and art for a truly authentic experience.
My first stop was the Amer Fort. Mughal architecture, lavish marble walls and an opulent courtyard, I couldn’t wait to get a slice of Rajesthan history. It also contains Sheesh Mahal, an ornate display of mirrors. I was in awe of how beautiful the fort was and the courtyard gardens were nothing to sneeze at either. The stunning backdrop was a pretty picture of Indian countryside.
Usually, when I want to build something beautiful I stick to decorating my Christmas tree but it looks like palaces have always been in style as India is full of them! Mosaic patterned walls, sculptured mirrors, no wonder so many people flock to see this important piece of Jaipur’s history. The palace is divided into four different levels with different attractions such as the Diwan-i-aam (Hall of Public Audience), the Diwan-i-kaas (Hall of Private Audience), Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and the Sukh Niwas where winds blow over waterfalls to create a cool climate.
There is also two light shows every evening. One is in Hindi which starts at 8 and the English one is at 7.30. There are also puppet shows and a classical dance program which can be located in Sukh Mahal.
If you want to go shopping for gifts/specialty items and traditional wear then look no further than Bapu Bazaar. Famed for being the place to sharpen tourists’ bargaining skills, Bapu Bazar is a delight with a plethora of items which appeals to all sorts of people. I picked up some colourful trousers which unfortunately reminds me of this meme*:
*Substitute for India.
But I didn’t care because they were pretty and cheap! I also took the time to stock up on Lehengas as it had been way too long since I’d bought new ones. Colourful Bangarees and jewellery were also selling fast and I took this opportunity to pick up some.
Authentic Rajasthani culture? Cultural performances? Great food? The Chocki Dhani village enticed us because it was a chance to see a glimpse of the ‘real’ India and satisfy my urge to delve into my roots. Chocki Dhani is an ethnic resort and model village attracts both tourists and locals, not only for their promising attractions but also the culinary experience with an extravagant open air buffet restaurant.
Walking inside after paying the entrance fee, I was lost on what to check out first. I opted for a puppet show where a man was using a wooden control bar and string to move a few cute doll figurines who were decked out in traditional Indian wear including little minature cloth saris.
In the village there were different performances going on. We stopped to check out two Indian girls in gagra cholis (traditional skirt and top with intricate designs and colours) who were dancing energetically. A man was providing the background music by using a tabla (classical drums). There was so much spirit and passion I stopped to watch.
There were other dance performances going on. One in particular was enjoyable because one of the girls tried to coax audience members into showing off their moves too! Eventually, one woman did come up and dance proving that positive energy is contagious.
Another performance which I coudn’t tear my eyes from showed a young woman dancing on glass!
There was lots to do and see at Chocki Dhani. From the unconventional art of palm reading to a merry-go-round to games for kids. After seeing the many attractions, we settled down to eat at the candlelit buffet dinner. There was so much to choose from. You could have Rajasthani cuisine or more Western cuisine as there was a pasta bar. My favourite was the pani puri which came served with different chutneys and dips that I had about 13. No regrets!
Overall, my experience visiting Chocki Dhani was amazing and I loved that so much Indian culture was showcased here.
For the ultimate cinematic experience, I strongly recommend a visit to the grand Raj Mandir, a luxurious cinema in Jaipur. With two staircases and a magnificent foyer. Odeon, take some notes. It is worth noting the cinema exclusively shows movies in Hindi without subtitles. I am not fluent in Hindi but can understand it to an extent, (before anyone calls me a coconut, my mother tongue is Gujarati) so I was looking forward to testing my language skills.
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Ok so you’ve satisfied your tastebuds but where can you quench your alcohol deprived thirst? Here are some reccommendations:
- The first bar I visited when I reached Miami. Burger place by day, speakeasy by night. Bacon Bitch transforms into cool retro bar ‘Shhh…’
- Arrive in a small, understated bar, go through a bookcase with a secret button and order some drinks that come wrapped up for that authentic secret bar vibe
- Graffitti, luminous neon walls and happy hour…what’s not to love?
- Ok so you’re in Miami but where was the glamorous lifestyle you were promised? Right here in Liv of course!
- I started my night by predrinking in Catalina Hotel and Beach club as part of a deal that included wristband entry and free drinks
- Word of warning: when ordering a mixed drink specify how much alcohol you want. I ordered a double vodka lemonade, took one sip and nearly died because they’d added the same amount of alcohol and mixer
- After having our fill of drinks, our group were transported to the club with a limo – the Miami lifestyle has its perks!
- We arrived in the club in good time and realised it was the ultimate boujie nightclub experience – 22,000 square feet of dancefloor, a lavish stage and VIP access. Did I also mention that Tory Lanes was performing?
- Apart from the prices which nearly made me cry (36$ for a double mixer and spirit), I partied like a princess
- We visited this decadent hotel on Ocean Drive on our last night, wanting something chilled and fun
- There was a salsa dancing night on and I was eager to learn something new without my two left feet messing up
- 3 bars, a nightclub and live music lounge outdoors, this exotic location offers an alternative night out to dancing in a sweaty filled club
- Their signature drink choice of a frozen Daiquiri will keep you wanting more and more – the limit does not exist, welcome to brain freeze
- Wet Willies have become such a popular franchise they even sell their own merch
- Food, drink and a view of Ocean Drive…a great lowkey place to relax
- If rap, afrobeats, hip-hop and bashment is your thing then this club is the perfect place for you to get ‘litty’
- A premium lounge with the hottest names in the buisiness with artists like Summer Walker,
- The club is quite small so if you don’t mind being squeezed in like sardines, this one is for you
- Happy hour and American cuisine after a hard day on the scooters? Count me in
- Sports bar that is perfect for a lowkey pint yet highkey dining experience
- Craft brews and cocktails
- Impressive drinks menu with an “All You Can Drink” for $50
- Bar to club experience on the cheap
- Fun, Multicoloured booze guaranteed to turn your tongue into a rainbow
After a vibe check of Miami’s drinking scene I can confirm that it is indeed, ‘litty’.
Thought food in the USA just consisted of massive portions of congealed lard and a double portion of fries? Well you’re half right. Some portions are supersize but I found that there was a whole range of deliciousness in variety of cuisines Miami had to offer. Read on for my reccommendations!
- Limonada Bar and Breakfast
- I really fancied some eggs and this brunch place served me up with a tasty Eggs Benedict with a breakfast potato and hollondaise sauce of course which really hit the spot.
- There were loads of other brunch options such as steak and eggs, multiple healthy variations of avocado and toast, a ‘craft your own omelette’ for the creatives, quinoa for the health freaks and sweet options such as waffles and Nutella french toast. Hangover brekkie is sorted and it’s a good ‘un.
- This 50s style diner came with massive portions of comfort food on the menu and vibrant red canteen style tables and chairs for that extra chill factor
- I ordered the Portobello Mushroom wrap which came in a substantially large tortilla wrap filled with salad and onions, served with potatoes
Did I mention the portion was supersize? It looks smaller in the photo I promise!
- I washed it down with a shot of tequila which must have been at least two shots because this doesn’t look like the one I normally get at Spoons…
- Is everything double here? Am I meant to share? What if I don’t want to?
Rosetta Italian Bakery
- The perfect little bakery filled with lots of luxurious savoury and sweet slices to nurse that hangover after a night on Ocean Drive
- Nutella doughnuts really satisfied my sweet tooth enough and there’s more custard and jam pastries if you’re still craving some sugary goodness
- A lot of the late starts we had meant we missed breakfast so I was more than happy to grab a florentine or margharita slice which did the trick
- There are also fresh juices and a range of breads.
- Set in a location that can be hailed Miami’s answer to Boxpark, there were a range of Asian foods from ramen to Vietnamese sandwiches with a variety of different flavors
- Stir fried noodles mixed with sizzling veg and tasty tofu was the dish I opted for – are you drooling yet?
- Hip Hop played from booming speakers outside and there was a cocktail bar which served a range of cocktails for $9. Did somebody say happy hour?
- Carribean food in Little Haiti? Let’s go!
- I managed to find a vegetarian dish which consisted of flavourful rice and kidney beans, sweet plantain and salad which really satisfied my taste buds
- Naturally, there was a variety for meat eaters to choose from like oxtail, barbequed ribs, stewed conch and fried fish
- Takes the contender for one of the best burgers I have ever tasted
- First you pick the choice of meat or veggie filling you want, then you can choose between a pretzel bun, lettuce wrap and potato bun, choose the type of cheese you want and salad and lastly an array of sauces to choose from
- Served with waffle fries, this meal is the ultimate source of comfort food and it put me in a severe food coma
- Classic Mexican joint with a twist – the interior is small and resembles a Subway size seating plan but there’s a door at the back which opens up into a substantially sized casual Weatherspoons style bar
- Waitresses are on hand to take drink orders and you can sit back, relax and enjoy the range of food options
- I opted for soft veggie taco shells which were so good I have to order some more and paired it with a cocktail so I could start my pre-drinking early
- Ok so this place may serve congealed pizza and bucketloads of cheese and fries but it was the perfect spot to get food from a night out when you’re drunk and craving junk food
- Pizza, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, wings and side orders…this is the perfect place to pig out.
It was my friend’s first time staying in a hostel and the first night really cemented why people avoid hostels – there is always someone who decides to make as much noise as humanly possible. I mean, if you wanted to go the whole hog, why didn’t you just bring a trumpet and wake everyone up with a fanfare of ‘Ave Maria’? Okay, so maybe I’m being slightly dramatic but one of the girls in our room decided to turn on the lights at 5 AM and rearrange her whole suitcase before walking out and leave the lights on.
Moving on swiftly, we woke up pretty late and decided to take our time getting ready as we wanted to take some pretty pictures in our next stop…Nyhaven!
On the way to Nyhaven it was pissing it down so we felt like a pair of alley cats trying to nativage these murky waters in search of food. We stopped by a cosy looking burger place called Nyhavn C which claimed to have the “Best Vegetarian Burger Ever”. Bold claims but I like a challenge so I opted for just that while Adi got a Chicken burger.
Well someone’s eyes were bigger than her stomach at this point
In a state of post meal bliss, I lay back and groaned in both pleasure and overindulgance. Cause of Death: TOO MUCH BURGER
It was still pouring down at this point so me and my friend delayed our adventure for as long as we could but then managed to make it outside and take some pretty pictures of the pastel houses surrounding the waterfront. Think Balamory but with elegance!
Ignoring the rain, (gosh how many times have I mentioned the weather, it hurts being this British), Nyhaven embodied the classiness and striking architecture that Copenhagen is deemed incedible for. Taking a walk to admire the refined and polished sights the city has to offer was such a good shout. #HyggeFactor
We stumbled on Amaliensborg Palace which was magnificent and houses the Danish Royal family. It consists of four different classical palaces and in the centre of the square there was a statue of the founder of Amaliensborg Palace, King Frederick V.
Unfortunately the museum was closed by the time we got there so we couldn’t find out more and check out the interiors but this is definitely something I will come back and find out about!
Seeking solace from the rain, we found a beautiful church with stunning architecure and incredible paintings. The Marble Church is west of Amaliensborg Palace and we sat inside for a bit to really admire the art pieces, altar and the rich detail in the design of the church. I also took this time to ask questions about Christianity and find out more about the history behind the church and designs. It was relaxing and peaceful just to sit down and take it all in.
By this time it was starting to get dark so we decided to leave and grab some food on the way back. We stopped off at wok place and I had some incredible Hygge food which was warming, nourishing and just delicious…the picture DOES do it justice
Ok it might not be the best quality picture but hey, I never said I was a food blogger. Just believe that it was bloody good.
No holiday is complete without a chance to discover the nightlife and that’s what we decided to do. Luckily, we were in the heart of Copenhagen and there was a strip of bars just a few minutes away from us so we started as we mean to go on!
Pros: The music is diverse-ish. I heard a mix of Pop, r&b, cheese and hip hop. It was crowded but intimate and each bar was slightly different. Some had a dive bar sort of vibe which was a little different to what I’ve normally experienced in London whereas others had studenty vibes with younger adults and drink offers
Cons: The drinks were hella expensive. I know that Copenhagen is expensive but as we hadn’t had a chance to pre-drink I was counting my Krona and was not happy to see it deplete massively. Also some bars were way too crowded and tiny. Breathing space is a must
You should check out: The Jane, Aloha Beach Bar, Andy’s Bar, Cucaracha etc
Whew! That’s a wrap on Day 2.
On the way to Jaipur our driver stopped off at Elephant Village ‘Hathi Gaon’ as me and my sister had mentioned we were fans of the cute trunk carriers. We were told that the the things we could do here ranged from riding, painting, bathing and feeding the elephants. Personally, the thought of painting elephants for entertainment made me uneasy and I oppose riding them because of the incessant cruelty these poor things are put through! Here’s an article on elephant abuse.
Another thing which concerned me were the reviews I read online about this place. It seemed that a lot of tour guides were teaming up with the owners and scamming tourists by charging more than what was necessary. It seems tourists are also not getting what they paid for e.g. riding the elephants for less time than what was agreed. This is disgusting and I felt sorry for the poor elephants as they were forced to carry families and endure abuse.
So instead the owner just let us feed and stroke them and I got to get up, close and personal with Nelly and her friends.
I loved the short but sweet time spent with them and in the future I’m definitely going to go to some more ethical elephant sanctuaries.