Monkey’s and Munchies

09 March 2015

What a very educational day and interesting weekend it has been!

Today, we visited the Amber Fort in Jaipur, where there once lived a King with 12 wives… But this didn’t stop him indulging in a good pamper wherever possible!

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These pictures show a steam room, which operated by servants boiling water in the next room and steam entering through little holes and a Jacuzzi, which was filled with hot water which bubbled somehow through some law of physics that I’ve totally forgotten now. The entire place was also air-conditioned, by having water run behind the marble walls and cool air pushing through little holes as a result.

He also had quite the wok!

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That must have been some dinner party!

The high-light of this visit for me was a nifty instrument I bought from a street seller…

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A Ravanhatta!

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With a coconut base and a bamboo neck, I thought this was an impressive piece of craftsmanship! While I haven’t quite sussed how to play it yet… I’m sure, with time, I’ll become an expert!

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Saturday was an awesome day. We visited the Krishna temple, took in the breath-taking views of the Nahargarh fort, and an absolute high-light for me… The Monkey Temple!

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On the drive, we also saw the Water Palace, which was first brought to my attention by a particularly tasty episode of Reza: Spice Prince of India, leaving me to associate this view with tasty curry and therefore build up a sharp appetite.

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Then came an evening of delicious delights.

An event was being held called Chowkhi Dhani- a rainbow of Indian flavours for just 500 Rupees!

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Despite this giant menu greeting us at the entrance, I still have no idea really what I ate, or at least which was which. But I can tell you my favourite was Yellow!

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Oh, Yellow!

Places were paid on entry, then seated on a first come first serve basis. And thank goodness we got in on the first sitting, because the queue built up quickly! The team behind it gave great service, were very attentive, and kept our plates loaded with various Thali flavours!

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I hope to find a recipe for Yellow soon enough.

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After dinner, the event also had a variety of dance performances, fun-fair style games to play, shops with lovely bits and bobs (really regret not getting a set of teacups now) and an Artisan Village to explore, which included jungles, caves, slides and houses, offering a sample of the many colours and diversities in style that fill India.

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I can’t believe we’ve been here only two weeks and seen so much already! India is extraordinary!

 

HAPPY HOLI!!

06 March 2015

If there’s one thing I’m learning very quickly in India, it’s how to pee or sleep just about anywhere. I fell asleep pretty quick in my tent but awoke at 1am desperate for the toilet. It was dark and scary outside, so I attempted to wait, but by 1:40 I concluded that I could wait no longer, so crept out into the darkness to do my business. Mid-wee, a stray dog appeared and started sniffing my head!! I politely excused myself and returned to my tent, but I can only assume he was very impressed with my wee, as he followed me back and cried at not being allowed inside the tent. Finally, the clever thing found a compromise, and slept as close to me as possible while still remaining on the other side of the tent, creating a friendly dent for me to sleep next to. He then saw is as his duty to bark at every bird or breeze that happened by. Around 3:30am he disappeared for a moment and I thought finally sleep could come, but he returned shortly after having found a plastic bottle to loudly chew on for the remainder of the night!

As the following day was Holi festival, we had to be awake particularly early in the morning to beat the traffic. So as a result, I looked like this:

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But was back on my camel 5:30 sharp as promised.

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The moment we arrived back in Jaipur, we were greeted by this:

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HAPPY HOLI, EVERYONE!

 

 

Cooking with Auntie and Pria: Auntie’s Jaipur Vegetable

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Something particularly impressive about Auntie’s cooking and teaching skills, is that she managed to communicate everything across in spite of her knowing minimal English and me knowing absolutely no Hindi at all. When this recipe began, I asked the name and what told “Vegetable”. “Vegetable what?” I enquired. “No, Vegetable. Just Vegetable.”

“Vegetable curry?” I pushed

“No!” I was told sternly “Not curry! Vegetable!”

A loving, patient and wise woman, I thought better than to question this name further. So, without any more delay, here is the recipe for

Auntie’s Jaipur Vegetable

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Cooking with Auntie and Pria: Vegetable Spring Roll

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Next on Auntie’s lesson plan was her delicious recipe for an irresistible vegetable spring roll! Like all the recipes we were taught on this day, the quantities are enough to feed a whole hostel of hungry volunteers! So I would half all of the below.

Ingredients

For the filling

  • Half a white cabbage
  • 2 or 3 green pepper
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 table spoon of soy sauce
  • 2 table spoons of red chilli paste
  • 1 table spoon of green chilli sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1 table spoon of salt
  • Half teaspoon of Ajinomoto seasoning

For the roll

  • 1kg of white flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 pints of water
  • 1 tablespoon of cornflour

For the cook

  • Lots and lots of vegetable oil!

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Cooking with Auntie and Pria: Masala Tea

I was eased in gently with my impromptu cooking lessons in Jaipur, first being taught how to make masala tea. Now, keeping in mind I was taught to do this in a volunteer’s hostel, this is a recipe to make 30 cups! So if you follow it, do cut things down assuming you’re making tea for less!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 litres of milk
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • A good thick inch of ginger
  • 8 table spoons of sugar
  • 3 cardamons
  • A pinch of cloves
  • A dash of black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons of black tea leaves

1. Smash up your ginger good and proper

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2. Set this to one side, and in a large saucepan put your milk and water. Bring to a boil.

3. Once at a boiling temperature, keeps stirring and add the entirety of your ingredients

4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes

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5. Return to a boiling temperature. As soon as the milk reaches this temperature, remove from the heat.

6. Using a colander, strain your tea through into a serving pot, leaving behind and lumps and bumps

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7. Serve and enjoy!

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Teaching and Learning

04 March 2015

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Today was our final day of volunteering at the school in the Elephant Village of Jaipur. I have to say, it’s been an exhausting experience, both emotionally and physically. Physically, because the children are all remarkably fast and strong for their age, and seemed very fond of climbing me like a tree! At one point, I had 5 on me including 2 on my head, which might sound very cute and fun, but it was suffocating!

Discipline was lacking in the group and put this alongside an enormous language barrier… It was almost impossible to get them to behave! The two teachers present would smack the naughty children… Perhaps knowing we wouldn’t do this made it easier for them to act out with us?

It was emotionally difficult, because many of these children showed significant athletic or academic potential-3-year-olds that know their entire English alphabet, 8-year-olds that can count to 500 in English, and forget being nice and letting them win a race, you’re lucky if you’ll ever catch them! But in such a poverty stricken area, they will never been given an opportunity for this greatness to grow. The school itself wasn’t so much a school as it was an area to leave children aged 1 to 13 while their parents work, so there wasn’t really any presence of order.

The elephants that were kept there were also an upsetting sight. Painted, and dressed with bells and chains, trained to do tricks for money, and with little to no greenery around to eat, it’s a mystery to me how they survive here. I even saw a man beating one on top of its head!

But the experience was also a lot of fun. With Holi Festival right around the corner, we used this last day to celebrate early with the kids! As you can see, they had a pretty fair aim! But again, let me emphasise… They were VERY fast!!

Each day, after returning from volunteering we’ve had a workshop teaching us different elements of India culture!

The first was Henna, which now more or less covers my right hand and forearm

Today’s was a saari workshop, teaching us the correct way to tie and pin a saari, and what should be worn underneath.

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But the funniest and most memorable of all would be the Bollywood Dance workshop. I’m sorry to say that this revealed I have no future in Bollywood! The instructor was unintentionally hilarious- a stern and serious man who never introduced himself and had very little patience with our inabilities… But a very impressive butt wiggle.

Following this, a friend and I sneaked away to take part in a cooking lesson we had arrange with the kitchen here at the hostel. It was such fun! We learned Masala Tea, Chapattis, Vegetable Spring Roll, and something just simply titles “Vegetable”.

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Highlight so far!