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desideewar des se WITH KANAN GARG

Visiting India is always fun for those of us living in America and elsewhere around the world. We take many exciting vacations- breezy beaches, luxurious cruises, all inclusive resorts, adventurous National Parks, historical cities and so on. However, India beckons us, luring us ever so often. Our craving for visiting India is never satiated. We look forward to meeting old friends and family, eating millions of variety of food and capturing those unique moments that you see only in India.

Kanan Garg, from Texas, had not visited India during Diwali time for over two decades. She longed to soak in the atmosphere, the ambiance everywhere, the accentuated traditions and the culture seen during the time. This November, determined to celebrate Diwali with her parents- she left for Hyderabad, to be in India for three weeks. Little did she know that the trip will be so much more than just about celebrating Diwali, that she would be re-discovering India- all over again, for she got to visit places other than the big metropolitan cities of India- towns like Shivpuri, Indore and others in Madhya Pradesh. Places that have progressed with the world and yet nurture the ancient, both materialistically and traditionally. The mix was interesting and intriguing. Here Kanan shares her experience via pictures. 

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General Sights In India ... 

The experience that is India starts right at the streets of India. Even before you reach what has always been "home", you witness sights that you see no where else in the world. Of course the west's perception of 'cows and dogs casually strolling on the streets' is right, even though that perception is minuscule compared to the adventure that India is. 

Streets Of India- Cow

You see the thela wala (vendor with a cart) selling bangles (or anything else that your imagination can fathom) , there are occasional utterly overloaded bullock-cart, trucks that serve as mobile shops for the vegetables, and other innumerable unique sights. 


Streets of India



"You notice everything, things that people who live in India take for granted", says Kanan, "the halwai (sweet-maker) who is quietly going about his daily chore of making sweets by the street corner, another vendor pushing his cart down the street hoping to entice the people around to buy the fresh, though open, sugar cane cubes, and the people themselves out on the streets at any time of day". 

"More than anything else, I was captivated by the ancient buildings and highly traditional doors that are apparently still around in the small towns of Madhya Pradesh", says Kanan. And looking at the pictures (below) that she captured during the rides around these towns, we know excatly what she means.







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"It is truly modern meets pre-modern in these towns. Inside the homes, you see that kids do have all the latest gadgets, the homes are equipped with recent technologies and yet you'll see the pani ka ghara despite the refrigerator. You see some current day architecture here there too", Kanan tells us, clearly amazed at the mix. 



Morning time in India buzzes with activities all around...

We all know about that buzz of activity that is very unique to India, unlike anywhere else in the world. There's the maid who starts her morning round- washing the dishes and the clothes, doing jharu-pocha next, in various different homes, with home-owners often pressuring them to give priority to them.

The school kids are seen boarding the auto-rickshaw ... 

There is the milk-man that drops by with the milk ...

Pooja in India is an elaborate affair in most homes. Even more so during the festival season, and especially when it precedes any Hindu ceremony. Kanan comes from a marwari family where Parojan ceremony has been an important ceremony that the start of adulthood for a boy. Although, the ceremony has lost its significance in many families, you have to be lucky to witness one in all of its extravagant glory- complete with the unique flavors of tedious marwari food. Here Kanan shared some glimpses of what she captures- of the traditions, culture and the food.

Don't you love all the tiny little details that involve the pooja? There are dozens of fresh flowers, tiny bowls of haldi, kum kum, milk, sweets, paan leaves, ghee, kalaba, diya, cotton wicks, and dozen other stuff. Not to mention the drawings that are often made on the walls and multitude of religious threads used. 



The stunning colors, henna and traditional jewelry are more reasons that make Indian events intriguing and interesting, even for those who grew up watching these and even more so for those who return to soak it all, drawn by nostalgia. 



Ceremony In India




Ceremony In India

We all remember the cooking that goes on behind the scenes in any major event in India- the pandals that are set up for the halwais, and the people working away in the make-shift work-stations setup on the streets... 

Song and dance are of course an integral part of any and every celebrations in India. This extravagantly organized Parojan ceremony that Kanan attended in Madhya Pradesh state of India in her marawari family was no exception. All the religious ceremonies during the day culminated in an all-out evening bash.  The women danced on folk songs as well as the latest Bollywood film based songs. The colorful saris and the latest-in-the-fashion-world lehengas were testimony to the richness of Indian traditional garbs. 

Food in India tops the list of must-do things in India during our visits there. The must-eat items include the top restaurants and chains in the big cities, but the amazing finger-licking home-cooked meals everywhere in India. The organically grown vegetables, the fresh spices- all have a different flavor that are treat to our pallets. What better way to enjoy the delicacies than attend a traditional ceremony? "I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have the privilege of enjoying traditional marwari food like- Dal Bhati, Gatte Ke Sabzi




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