New Delhi or Bust – Memories from India, the Spicy Sub-Continent

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After being back a week from an amazing four city journey throughout the Northern parts of India it feels good to be home, though I must say I do miss the sites, sounds and tastes of India. Lets see, where to begin…

New Delhi or Bust.

The purpose of the trip was pure fun and exploration based on experiencing the Holi Festival and a celebration of our 35th anniversary together. Now I feel old typing that, but I will say that we met when I was 19, so you can do the math. I think our last trip abroad was 3 years prior to Turkey, so we were ready for some fun and adventure.

I can’t quite remember the show, if it was on PBS or a 60 Minutes interview, but years ago I saw the actors Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel visiting India and experiencing the Holi Festival. I knew I had to go too one day as the music, festivities and colors of the rainbow filled the air, hair and clothes of everyone there. People laughing, singing, throwing colored powder in the air and wiping it on each other. It looked magical. A celebration of Spring and all that goes with it.

New Delhi or Bust.

Needless to say when I saw an ad for the tour, in a country we both always wanted to explore, I booked it immediately. Visiting the historic sights of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, with a safari in Ranthambore National Park with the possibility of seeing the rare Bengal tiger in it’s own habitat was more than enticing. Count me in!

On top of that, it was centered around the Holi Festival, a double win. That was a year ago. Then we had the long wait…

I won’t bore you with flight details, hotels and the day to day grind of travel, but I will share with you some thoughts and photos of a magical, vibrant and beautiful country. It’s people, beyond the concentrated mass of population, sounds and traffic, always seemed to have a smile on their faces.

New Delhi or Bust.

Tasty fried snacks and roasted nuts from street vendors dotted each street and corner.

New Delhi or Bust.

There was no screaming in traffic, though there was the constant honk of horns, there were lines on the streets, but there was no signs of orderly driving. Often three lanes were marked on the roads with five lanes of cars, trucks, scooters, motorcycles, cows, dogs, and people all crisscrossing and all very aware of each other.

It was amazing to watch, maneuver through and make a destination unscathed and undented. I love that energy.

New Delhi or Bust.

All modes of transportation were available. Some safer than others…

New Delhi or Bust.
New Delhi or Bust.

We always try to eat everything we can when traveling. I love to experience true food in the countries we visit. What’s the point on missing out? I found and ate crispy dosa every single morning. Where has that been all my life?!

We also made it a point to try one dish, dal makhani, throughout the country just to see how different it was at each place we stopped. Wow.

New Delhi or Bust.

This is an ancient Step Well. Just look at the amazing craftsmanship and detail in this. It was mesmerizing and I remember commenting to Dave it reminded me of a MC Esher painting. That’s a long way down to the water.

New Delhi or Bust.

The famed Taj Mahl. I was a little disappointed that three of the minarets were under a cleaning, but it’s still an memorable photo. One minaret was cleaned and the difference was quite obvious and needed.

New Delhi or Bust.

The flavors! Oh my, the spices and techniques in cooking. The street vendors, hotels and highway road stops we hit up. All amazing and some were lackluster, but overall a delight to the senses and tastebuds. I was in heaven.

We took rickshaw rides through spice bazaars and back alleys of Old Delhi, visited mosques, watched marble inlay artisans at work, had our breath taken away at majestic landmarks from history like the Taj Mahal and even experienced visiting a Bengal Tiger Reserve. I love to soak it all in and participate with my partner in crime.

Just look at this marble inlay work – amazing!

New Delhi or Bust.
New Delhi or Bust.

Below are the gemstones that will be inlaid in the above marble plate. Insane, delicate art work!

New Delhi or Bust.

There were so many beautiful, proud people who, as we passed, asked us in to see their homes.

New Delhi or Bust.

An outdoor stove, complete with a little dried cow dung for fuel.

New Delhi or Bust.

Walking the streets the energy was buzzing for the upcoming Holi festival.

New Delhi or Bust.

Some of the women I saw had upwards of 50 pounds balanced atop their heads of various farming products, fuel, water, fruit and food.

New Delhi or Bust.

This garden surrounded by water near the mountaintop Amber Fort was breathtaking. Built circa 1592!

New Delhi or Bust.

The mosque in Old Dehi. We were in shorts and had to cover up.

New Delhi or Bust.

On some of the hotter days where it hit 102-104°F we had the afternoons free. Albeit we were in the middle of no where, with no true WiFi to surf the net or catch up on emails, it was nice to have downtime. I’m so used to go, go, go all the time. Needless to say, I’ve never been a big fan of them, but thinking back on it, I could get used to the fine art of napping during the heat of the day, too.

With 55 tigers in the huge 151 square mile reserve, we were lucky to site one female twice in one day.

New Delhi or Bust.

As the next to last day came upon us and we had traveled to many a fort, palace and historical site, it was time for the Holi Festival.

The evening before Holi, Holika Dahan, or “the lighting of bonfire” takes place, we were in the Jaipur palace square – it was exciting. The music, people and energy were contagious. Villagers would dip straw torches into the blessed fire and run as fast as they could back to light fires back in their villages.

New Delhi or Bust.

The day of the festival itself we had so much fun laughing, dancing and throwing colored powder on everyone that passed me by. I was covered as well, head to tow in a rainbow of colors and sweat. Kids were popping out of no where with squirt guns, and water launchers making everyone a kaleidoscope of every color of the rainbow.

Dave and I wiped colors of yellow, red, blue, purple, green and orange on our fellow travelers, each other and other people that were at the park we visited.

There was also an open bar that allowed those less akin to revelry join in with careless abandon and enjoy themselves. Some a little too much, but hey, it’s Holi!

New Delhi or Bust.

Sure there was plenty of visual poverty and the trappings that go with that, but the genuine generosity of the people I encountered was amazing. I’ve realized there’s a difference between being content and happy and a smile goes a long ways. Kinda like what you don’t know, being in your own bubble, etc.

I also realize when venturing out into the rest of the world how good we have it here where I live and how many people take it for granted. I think travel should be mandatory to open the eyes of those in their own bubble. I think travel not only awakens one to others’ lives, conditions and experiences, but makes me grateful for what and who I am.

Religion and politics aside, people are people and we all want to be healthy, happy and loved. And we all love to eat.

New Delhi or Bust19

It’s good to be home. Spring is in the air and for this food blogger I am looking forward to some of the smaller things in life like rhubarb, cherries and plump, juicy strawberries. Fresh, tender spring greens for salads and the possibility of the new figs that soon will be growing on our tree out back.

Thanks for taking the time to read my rambling and I hope you liked the photos (many from my iPhone).

Inspired recipes will are over on my other site, Silk Road Recipes. I hope you check them out! Enjoy!


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. India has a very special place in my heart – it is almost ten years now that we toured through Rajasthan! India is a place like no other and I would love to visit again! Reading your post brought back fond memories ♡

    1. Isn’t a lovely country and the people so gracious. LOVED it and want to travel back and do the south, such amazing cuisines, smells and sites.
      Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading this one Miriam. 🙂

  2. Wow, where to begin?! First of all, HUGE congrats to you and Dave on 35 years! That is incredible. <3 And India looks like the perfect place to celebrate! So full of sights, sounds, smells…and life! I've never been, but I'm dying to go and now even more so after seeing your lovely photos.

    1. Thanks Faith, he’s still my favorite person to be with 🙂 Talk about a vibrant and exciting country to visit, India fit the bill and the festival was a great experience to cap it all off. If you ever have questions feel free to ask if you go.

  3. Kevin….I have wanted to read this ever since I first saw you post this but I wanted to give it the time it deserved. Where do I start? You guys have been together 35 years? Holy crap!!! What an achievement!!! You boys are a true testament to marriage and love…And you still like each other too 🙂 extra bonus. Those colors!!! OMG ! What a gorgeous festival!!! I need to do this…cuz I look so good in white so it’s only right to do this for me right?!? Maybe next FBC conference this will be how we end the festivities 🙂 What a killer trip man! I was always worried to go to places like that because of A. all the shots. B. the occasional stomach distress that’s a major possibility. C. I was worried of what I would see. I am a sentimental little human and when I see poverty I just want to to cry and cuddle the homeless. But I agree with you…the best thing anyone can do is travel outside of their country…if you have more than a jelly bean for a brain you will get exactly what you need out of it…I have friends who have travelled to the most beautiful places and it did not mean sh*t because they did not stay at the best resorts. Screw them. What a beautiful trip filled with memories that I can only imagine will last a lifetime. Great post…beautiful photos…I cannot wait for the recipes to come!

    1. You know what Mila – I actually thought of you often there, swear on my doggies lives. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment here. YES, he is still my favorite person to be with!
      You would have so much fun there, I can easily picture it, heels and all!
      First off, there were no shots needed, secondly the food was fantastic and no one got sick. I think with common sense one can navigate. We tried some street food, anything fried and lots of condiments and dal, ate at small restaurants, truck stops and hotels, but really stayed away from salads as our guide recommended. Lots of veg and fruit. We had brought imodium, but never cracked it open!
      As for your “C”, we are on the same wavelength, and I was prepared, but in reality it was no worse than Cairo, Luxor, Istanbul or Cape Town areas. It is a sad fact of life, but I tried to see the people not necessarily their situation and interact with them, not fear them. Their smiles and conversation made me less weary and giving the gracious people who opened up their houses and showed me their kitchens, classrooms, and gardens some money for their time I’m sure went a long way. As did the finding the occasional corner candy store and feeling like Willy Wonka handing out chocolate and candies to the trail of little kids following us. THE biggest smiles on the kids faces.
      Over all there was not that many homelessness that we encountered, it appears they (families) take care of their own well, something we should be doing sadly.
      Back to you though and the animals, I thought of you while we were out in the bush looking at the Bengal tiger and also when we road an elephant. I thought about it if I should or should not, but did anyways as it was the only mode of transportation up the mountain to the fort with my group. I laid my hand on the elephant and thanked her, hoping she was treated well. 🙂
      I love to experience a country, not just visit. Thanks again for taking the time to write this. Have a great rest of the week friend.

      1. Ahhh Kevin…I knew you would speak to the elephant 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful reply and how humbled am I that you thought of me on your beautiful getaway! I may be fancy nancy when I go out but when we are walking around exploring I am all flip flops and shorts and a fedora, naturally 🙂 Hubs and i love venturing out and hanging with locals and learning about the culture and the people…while our pinhead friends always stay behind terrified for their safety…losers. Have a terrific weekend my friend 🙂 I’ll see on the blogs!

  4. I’ve been SO looking forward to this post, Kevin! It looks you and David had an exquisite time…

    These sentences brought tears to my eyes:

    “I think travel not only awakens one to others’ lives, conditions and experiences, but makes me grateful for what and who I am.

    Religion and politics aside, people are people and we all want to be healthy, happy and loved. And we all love to eat.”

    1000X YES!

    1. Thank you Marissa, it was a fun, delicious and moving trip. We felt blessed to experience it and highly recommend it. While at times it was a bit of a sensory overload, it was revealing and left a smile on my face each evening. xoxo K