Happy 2015!

Thursday, January 8th, 2015 | Posted under Personal, Video, Vlogging

Here’s a video to say hi to you all! I hope 2015 has started out well for everyone!

Also that is the world’s weirdest screen shot. Ugh….. 🙂 Happy to be back! 🙂

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At the Chai Wallah

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 | Posted under India, Video

I have to say that our one day in Madhogarh might have been my favorite part of my two week tour in India. For me, getting out of the major cities and seeing rural Indian life was by the far the most educational and most enduring aspects of the trip. During our walk through Madhogarh, we made a stop at the local watering hole, the chai wallah stall.

For most of us living in the U.S., the closest thing we get to traditional Masala Chai is a Starbucks Chai Latte. I’ve been a fan of this drink for years while acknowledging that it’s probably far from authentic. Yet here I was drinking the precursor to that tea knock-off in probably the smallest, most local place possible. Would Starbucks measure up; and more importantly, did I care?

It was up to this man to show me and Team Ozzie, how it’s done…literally.

Chai Wallah Madhogarh

One of Madhogarh’s Chai Wallahs (I’m assuming that there’s more than one, right?)

First of all a little vocabulary:  “chai” is a generic word for tea in Hindi. It doesn’t refer to a specific type of preparation of tea. Masala chai is really what we were having, and what I would continue to crave in the mornings with breakfast while in India. I usually don’t drink caffeinated tea, but I couldn’t resist this, especially having it fresh everyday.  It’s common to find chai stands all over India selling Masala chai. It is a hot mixture of very strong black tea (usually Assam tea, often of the mamri variety), whole milk, a spice blend (usually made up of ginger and cardamom, with the addition of cinnamon, peppercorn, and cloves but the mixture varies), and sugar (lots of it). Apparently, everyone has their own twist on making Masala chai, so I can’t really tell you a process, but there are lots of great recipes via Ye Olde Google. The basic method is boiling water, milk, tea, and spices, and then straining it.

When we rolled up to the chai stall, it was definitely buzzing. There were several men of various ages gathered about chatting. Needless to say, quite a few of them took an interest in me, and I was quite fascinated right back. I could totally tell that they were talking about me, but of course I understood nothing. I did make out the word “African” though.

Chai Stall Crowd

Chai Tea Stall Crowd

Chai Wallah Crowd

For a variety of reasons, the chai spot is really like the local bar. It’s where people (Read: Men) go to shoot the breeze and meet up with friends. In my mind, the chai wallah isn’t just providing tea; he’s also creating community. As a tourist/traveler, I appreciated getting to the local hang out spot, even if I couldn’t really communicate and I was definitely out place. The village men smiled at us, and I think they appreciated that we happily drank our tea.

Man at Chai Stand

This man was kind enough to let me take a picture of him.

I couldn’t leave you all without showing how this chai wallah makes his tea. Perhaps it will inspire you to make some at home.

So cheers, everyone, and try some (Masala) chai in the near future, even if it is at Starbucks.

TDM Chai Stand

By the way, his version is better than Starbucks (big surprise). The milk adds creaminess, but it doesn’t overpower all of the other ingredients, which often happens with a poorly made Starbucks chai. Often you get a weak spice kick with Starbucks, but there was no doubt about what I was drinking here.

Do you like (Masala) chai tea? Do you enjoy checking out local watering holes, bars, and meeting spots when you travel?

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My First Bollywood Movie

Monday, December 10th, 2012 | Posted under India, Video

There were a few things that I wanted to experience while in India, and I knew that a Bollywood movie was one of them. I haven’t really seen very many Bollywood films, but I know that many have some of my favorite elements in a movie: lavish costumes, great singing, lively music, romance, and killer dance numbers. Bollywood is the nickname for the Indian film industry based in Mumbai, which cranks out hits for Hindi-speaking audiences in India and the Indian diaspora. The industry is one of the largest movie producers in the world.

When our guide, Pancham, suggested that our group take in a Bollywood movie while in Jaipur, I was beyond psyched. We all met up for an afternoon showing at the Raj Mandir Theater right in downtown Jaipur.

 

I have to admit that I wanted to see a movie that jibed with my traditional understanding of Bollywood: a big, over-the-top romance. Unfortunately, we had to settle for an action movie called “Tezz” (the loose translation to English means “Speed”). While a little disappointed, I did find some solace in the fact that I recognized some of the stars of the movie. Anil Kapoor plays a police officer and pseudo-good/bad guy depending on your perspective. He was the host of the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” in “Slum Dog Millionaire,” and he’s been in several major English language films. He did a great job in the last “Mission: Impossible”. I also recognized the actor playing the hero and main character, Ajay Devgan, but I have to admit that I don’t know where I can place him.

Here’s a trailer for “Tezz” so that you can get a sense of the movie:


The theater itself was rather ornate, and we chose to spend time in a plush lounge area before entering the theater. We even got Indian movie snacks, which I have to say I remember being good, but I don’t remember what they were. They were DEFINITELY much spicier than I’m used to for movie fare.

Raj Mandir Theater Jaipur

Our Theater

During the first part of the movie, I got the dance scene that I wished for. Check it out below. Apparently this Laila woman is some hotty Bollywood star. I have to admit that this was the least amount of clothing that I’d see any Indian woman wearing the entire three weeks I was there. Some of the dancing is a bit awkward to me, but I am sure that this is beyond suggestive by Indian norms.

By the way, did you see when the back-up dancers were in BLACK FACE and AFRO WIGS? I was like “WTF?” I did not actually say the F initial of that phrase out loud (just in my mind); but to be quite frank, I was shocked. I can’t understand Hindi (duh!), and it wasn’t clear to me why they needed Afro wigs and to color their faces with black paint. I wondered what the director thought he or she was accomplishing with that. I guess they figure no Black people are going to see this anyway, so why care? Maybe they thought it was cool? It took me a few minutes to get over that and to process it. I didn’t really didn’t have anyone that I felt I could talk to about that, so I just kept it to myself. The joys of travel, right? Moving on…..

Bollywood movies tend to be pretty long with most running about three hours. I did like the fact that there was an intermission. You can get up, take a good stretch and make a snack run (or a bathroom run or whatever…)

Raj Mandir Theater Jaipur

Our theater at the end of intermission

Overall, the movie was decent. There were some crazy special effects that made the stars seem almost superhuman in the action scenes. Again, I was disappointed that the movie took place in London of all places, so we couldn’t really see more of India. I’m still chuckling at the fact that they dubbed the dialogue of some of the white British actors in Hindi. I know they want the target audience to understand it, especially since at least 25% of the dialogue was in English; but it just made the entire scenario just a little far-fetched. Also did I mention whole plot lines that didn’t get tied up? Yeah, that, too.

One thing I did notice that I realize probably happens many places besides the U.S.: the audience’s “enthusiastic” behavior. I love going to the movies in Antigua because often people will be loud and have conversations with the movie. The actors obviously can’t hear, but it’s funny to hear what people choose to say. It takes some getting used to. Indians seem to be the same way. There was lots of whistling, cat calling and commentary throughout the movie. I guess it goes to show that some cultural norms may not be that far apart.

Can I just say that this was an experience? We did miss out on a more traditional Bollywood movie called “Housefull 2“. It’s on my Netflix queue. 🙂

Have you seen a film when traveling to another country? What was your experience like?

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My Top 5 Travel Pet Peeves

Sunday, August 12th, 2012 | Posted under Travel General, Uncategorized, Video, Vlogging

Hey, everyone!

Here’s a vlog in support of the Traveling Brown Girl Blogging Carnival. I decided to talk. Clearly I say “like” too much, but I hope you enjoy the vlog anyway. I’ll let you know who else is participating in the blogging carnival for this month later this week.

 

By the way, what are YOUR travel pet peeves?

 

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Old Delhi – Sights & Sounds

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Posted under India, Video

I’m glad that I waited until my third day to see the Old Delhi section of the city. Just so you know, Delhi is divided in name into old and new sections. The old section of the city was built by the very prominent Muslim (Mughal) ruler Shah Jahan a couple hundred years prior to British colonization. I had spent a weary and throat-parching afternoon walking up and down the very long streets in parts of (the newer) New Delhi a few days before. New Delhi is full of leafy residential streets, government offices and runabouts with little to no street life.

Old Delhi was the exact opposite of New Delhi. The streets were winding and the alleys neverending. I could have seen myself getting lost pretty easily there, and I have a pretty good sense of direction. There were few signs for streets and business; and, if there were any signs at all, more than half were written in Hindi. Team Ozzie, Pancham and I arrived in Old Delhi early in the morning and took advantage of the quiet streets before heading off to the Jama Masjid and just wandering around the area.

Old Delhi Street

Old Delhi Wires

Once I left parts of New Delhi and the Connaught Place area near my first hotel, I saw wires like these in almost every neighborhood. Big props for the ingenuity!

As the day wore on, the streets of Old Delhi became filled with everyone and everything: people walking in the middle of the street, cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, men carting every kind of natural and manufactured product you can imagine and cows…oh, the cows! At one point, everything just became overwhelming. Cars honking, people walking in front our cycle rickshaws, and people on motorcycles trying to make their way through as well. There were also vendors yelling and the occasional cow/bull grunt. This is the only part of Delhi where cows are allowed to walk the streets. I have a whole post about cows coming up some day soon. The cows in India deserve one.

Old Delhi Building

Old Delhi Cow

 

We hired a cycle rickshaw to take us from one end of Old Delhi to another. Was I hoping to get through our short ride alive? You bet. There were people, cars and animals coming from all directions and not much to protect us from them.

Old Delhi Cycle Rickshaw View

Our cycle rickshaw “driver”. This dude could move!

I couldn’t experience the energy of Old Delhi without shooting a little video. You can hear me chatting with our guide, Pancham, about a few things. Definitely try to listen, if you can. You’ll hear me cackling as usual. Pancham mentioned that many of the cycle rickshaw drivers only make about 400-500 rupees a day. That’s the equivalent about $7-10 USD per day, depending on the exchange rate, for very hard work. Respect.

 

Morning in Old Delhi from TAOTerri on Vimeo.

Old Delhi energized me, bowled me over and ultimately made me smile. I loved it. I’m so used to this sense of order here in the U.S., but Old Delhi is anything but that. It works though. What seems like ordered chaos to me is just your average day there. I usually don’t think of New York City as having a fast pace, but people tell me that it does all the time (I’m usually in my own little world walking down the street). I wonder if Delhi residents think the same of this high energy part of the city.

Have you ever been to a city or place whose energy affected you? Where was it, and what did you like or not like about it?

P.S. You can also find this video on You Tube for those who prefer videos there. I’m slowly building up my presence there.

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