I have weekends and evenings off, so I've been exploring Delhi every chance I get!
I went out shopping with one of the other interns and she introduced me to gola, which is like a popsicle. I expected it to be sweet like a popsicle, but sure enough, it was masala flavored.
She's a Delhi native, so she was able to haggle in Hindi and get me the good prices.
We went to a really fancy market you have to pay admission to get into, but I've been shopping at the local street markets too. We live just a couple minutes away from the Sector 9 and Sector 12 markets, where I go to buy fruit or to use the ATM. It's hard to find chocolate here that isn't melted, since it's so hot all the time and the stores don't have air conditioning, but I found a shop in Sector 12 market that keeps huge chocolate bars in a functioning refrigerator. I've been stopping there on my way home from work and have made friends with the three men who run it. I went there to get rice the other day and they asked me, "Aren't you forgetting the chocolate?"
The local snack food Angie and I have both fallen in love with is Mad Angles. They're rice chips, but they're nothing like rice cakes. They're much closer to potato chips, but lighter and not as greasy (and masala flavored, of course).
A couple days ago, I was walking to our slum center with one of the other interns when her flipflop broke. So she hobbled over to the closest house and because speaking with the residents in Hindi. Suddenly we were sitting down inside and she was wearing a borrowed pair of shoes. I had no idea what was going on. I asked if she knew these people and she said no - that they were just lending her the shoes while their son ran her flipflops to the cobbler and it would only take a couple minutes. I burst out laughing when she said that. A cobbler? For plastic flipflops? A flipflop cobbler that's apparently right around the corner?
So we sat with the women who lived there and Malika chatted with them in Hindi. She suddenly turned to me and said, "You can move in here. They just offered you their upstairs room. There's no air conditioner, but you can just use the ceiling fan, right? It's so close to the office. And they'll cook for you too." Once again, I was so severely caught off guard that it seemed hilarious. I kept protesting that I already have a place to live, but they continued to plan my move-in in Hindi until I very firmly declined. The women were so sweet, though. I couldn't communicate with them at all but they asked for pictures and I could do that.
And then, sure enough, less than 20 minutes later their son returned with the repaired shoes. In the US, you would not be able to break your flipflop, walk up to the closest house, and find someone willing to drop everything to take your shoe to the cobbler. You would not find a cobbler willing to repair a plastic flipflop, nor would you find a cobbler minutes from any given house. You would not be entertained by the residents for the next 20 minutes while their son was on your errand and they would not offer to open their home up to your foreign friend who doesn't even speak the language. It was the most surreal experience I've had all summer.
And then today I went to an old fort, Purana Qila, with my neighbors! A couple weeks ago I met their dad in the elevator and he told me he has two kids who go to school in the US. He sent them over to introduce themselves and we've been planning to go out around town together ever since.
They took me to McDonald's for lunch before we headed over and McDonald's here is nothing like McDonald's in the US. They don't serve pork or beef. They serve chicken, or they have an entire menu of vegetarian alternatives - sandwiches made of potato, paneer, etc. I'm not big on meat, so I love that vegetarian food is standard here.
And then I tried lassi for the first time, which I had heard is kind of like a milkshake but actually just tasted like Danimals. Today was an excellent day.