Archive | January, 2009

Derawal by nature – the third installment!

31 Jan

For the uninitiated, ‘Derawals’ refer to a community of people who originated from the Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan region of present day Pakistan. During partition in ’47, the Hindu and Sikh Derawals migrated to India while the Muslim Derawals stayed on in Pakistan. Derawals speak a dialect of Seraiki called Derawali, which comes loaded with a healthy complement of choice cuss words. Other than their unique language, they are also revered for their exceptionally good taste in food, their exotic recipes (which are rarely shared with others) and easily the best ‘achaars’ (pickles) anywhere in the world. More than anything else, they know how to have a good time, especially when in large groups – like the one we found ourselves in, at the end of December last year.

Welcome to our 3rd annual Derawal family reunion!!

The Shekhawati region of northeast Rajasthan derives its name from the 15th century Rajput chieftain, Rao Shekha. Today, it comprises the districts of Sikar and the melodious sounding Jhunjhunu. Within Jhunjhunu sits the town of Surajgarh, which was originally the ‘Thikana’ (estate) of Thakur Bhojraj Ji. The Thikana was established in the late 18th century and a fortified palace was built for the good Thakur’s use.

Surajgarh literally means ‘castle of the sun’ and with the Thakur long gone, that very castle has since been transformed into a heritage hotel, where we stayed!

PC158809

Continue reading

Advertisements

36 hrs in Buenos Aires

25 Jan

Happy 2009 everyone! That said, be warned that my first – and second – blogs of the year will date back to the last month of ’08.

I’m going to leave aside the why’s, the how’s, the what’s and other such logistical intricacies for now, instead just cut to the chase – after all 36 hours ain’t a lot of time ๐Ÿ˜‰

11:20 AM – Arrival at Ezeiza or EZE in IATA parlance. The terminal I arrive at isn’t the most impressive I’ve seen, but 36 hrs later, I fly out of another, which is, in fact, quite plush.

Clear blue skies, some brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the early to mid 20s (~80F) await me outside the terminal building, and what’s more, being summer in the southern hemisphere, I will have daylight all the way till 9:30 PM!! A warm welcome, if you will, on my first visit to South America.

MTL or ‘Manuel Tienda Leon’ offers frequent shuttle buses from EZE to the city centre for 40 Pesos (3.5 Pesos to the Dollar). Argentina’s highway infrastructure is at par with the best in the world – traffic glides along effortlessly, not everyone sticks to their lanes admittedly, but at least no one honks and there’s certainly no aggression on the roads.

1 PM – I reach MTL’s terminal in downtown Buenos Aires and get my first glimpse of the magnificent Estacion Retiro or Retiro train station – one of Argentina’s busiest rail terminals and a city landmark in itself.

PC028311

A quick ride on the ‘Subte‘ or subway and we are in Belgrano – one of the northern ‘Barrios’ or neighbourhoods of the city. I drop of my stuff at the hotel, shower and then head to the local cafe for a snack of coffee, cookies (which come gratis with it) and some assorted but very delicious ‘Empanadas’ – the sweet corn one easily scoring over the rest!

Continue reading