Back in Delhi we woke to thunder, lightning and heavy rain on Friday morning (11th October). The local papers are full of rain and flood stories. This has been one of the longest monsoon periods in India in recorded history.
Bukhara, for many years has been known as the best Indian restaurant in the world – hosting many celebrity guests including Bill Clinton and Barak Obama etc etc. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting – it focuses on tandoor oven grills – Punjabi style – so the ambience is rustic, informal and exuberant - and eating with your fingers - Nth Indian style. There are even slightly cheesy escorted visits to the kitchen on offer (I wonder if Obama availed himself of this opportunity?)
We all set out through torrential rain and sheets of gushing water over the roads in our van to the Saket district and its massive shopping malls: DLF Place and Select City Walk – home to a completely globalised shopping experience for Delhi’s middle class. There were all the familiar mid level brands here: Mango, Gant, Promod, Zara, Starbucks, Mothercare, Marks & Spencer, Sephora, Hamley’s (the biggest toy shop in the world), Forever 21 and even a Hard Rock Café.
We found a few things to buy in our favourite FabIndia and Rob and I bought a Nike bag that will be useful for overflow purchases on the trip home.
We said goodbye to Wayne and Jennie (for a day or so anyway in our case) at 12.30pm as they left in time to catch their train to Ludhiana on their next Indian adventure.
We’d had enough of shopping by 3.00pm and by now the skies had cleared (and the roads were miraculously clear of the morning flooding), so we were able to spend a few quiet hours at Amarya Villa – which was just as well as our last night in Delhi was to be a big one – meeting up with Canberra friends of Judy and Jurgen at the iconic Bukhara Restaurant at the opulent ITC Maurya hotel (a Sheraton brand hotel).
The food was wonderful and we ate the smoky platters of spiced lamb, chicken, prawns, lobster, kebabs and endless piles of flaky naan breads until we were “stuffed”.
Judy and Jurgen’s friends were at the end of a luxury tour of Rajasthan – an Oberoi Hotel package – so they had many travel tales and we could compare notes. Even with their luxury touches they, like us, had experienced a drenching or two in the late monsoon storms and some infections (more than us actually). We all agreed though that we’d loved visiting “Incredible India”.
Some top wines were ordered this night and I was poured (and I drank) the strongest G&T I have ever experienced. It was a great night and a memorable one – but not a cheap night by Indian or Australian standards – lucky for us we’re not cheap! And what about the size of these gulab jamuns?