Catching up…Independence Day, Cow Traffic Jams, and More Great Food!

On Thursday, we had the pleasure of celebrating India’s 67th Independence Day here in Jamnagar, which was very cool!  The day began quite festively, as all of the hotel staff were wearing Indian flag caps.  In fact, they were kind enough to lend me one as well, and inform me that now, I too am Indian 🙂 Here we are in the hotel lobby, getting into the spirit!

Group Ind day pic

Although schools and public offices were closed for the day, we were able to work from the hotel in the morning, and then in the afternoon, some of our team members from the other India 20 projects joined us as we headed over to Chaitanya where the children from the Happy Children’s Center had prepared a cultural program.  It was a wonderful afternoon in celebration of the holiday, complete with singing, ceremonial gift presentation, and numerous choreographed dance routines.

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Yesterday, on our usual auto rickshaw ride to work, we experienced our first cow traffic jam!  On the main roads, the cows are typically just driven around, however yesterday there were 6 or 7 cows that were congregated at the intersection of two small one lane roads.  It required some deft maneuvering and persistent honking by our skilled driver, Khim-gee, but we ultimately got around them… what an adventure!

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In addition to the cows, I am also getting a little bit better at negotiating the crowded streets here, and most importantly crossing them.  With no lights or stop signs, pedestrians and drivers alike, have to pretty much assert themselves, in order to get anywhere.  All of those years of jaywalking in the cities of Boston and NY are finally paying off for me!!  Now if I can just figure out how to keep the mud from covering the bottom of all of my pants and shoes, I will be all set!

I continue to embrace the vegetarian haven that is Indian food.  Before coming to India, I was warned that the food here would be significantly more spicy than what we are accustomed to in the US.  However, I have really enjoyed everything we have had so far, and have since learned that Gujarathi food is known for being less spicy than other areas of India.  I could probably write an entire blog alone on the awesome food we have had, but for now, I’ll mention a few of the highlights.
Yesterday, we had the pleasure of having a home cooked meal for lunch, made by our client Kajal.  It was one of the most delicious meals we have had so far, including roti (round, wheat bread), curry, biryiani (flavorful rice), bhindi masala or lady fingers (what we call okra at home), and a delicious brown sugar tasting dessert; it was quite the feast!

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In addition to the home cooked treat, we have also enjoyed some delicious Chana masala, Gujarati tahli (mix of local dishes), and, feeling daring one evening, I asked for something spicy.  Veg Kohlapuri is known by the locals as being a spicy mix of vegetables with a red chili base; when I ordered, the waiter asked if I liked spicy?  As a precaution, I was advised to also order a side of yogurt (or curds) to tame the fire.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised to not need it, as the Kohlapuri ended up being spicy, but not overpowering, it had wonderful flavor and was in short, delicious!!!  Have I mentioned how much I love the food here? 🙂

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