My weekly Slice of Life are my letters to my Doddamma. She is my father’s elder brother’s wife. Doddamma literally means ‘elder mother’. She is 88 years old. She cannot hear properly if I telephone to talk to her. So, I have been writing letters to her since October 2017. I enjoy writing letters and she is happy to read them. They are only about the everyday moments in my life. I post my letters to her every week.
My letters to my doddamma are about our trip to Amritsar and Dharamsala between 1st and 9th of this month. So I am sharing the same in my Slice of Life post.
Amritsar – 3-01-2020
The weather was so cold and it was a pleasure to sleep under warm woolen blankets. This morning we got up at 8.15 😊. I don’t remember when last I woke up so late. Vacations are meant for relaxing. This is one of the reasons we do not like going on organized tours. On our own, we can spend the day as we want to.
Amritsar is famous for its food. Before leaving home, we had read articles about what we should eat and drink, and where while in Amritsar. Wherever we go, we enjoy the local food.
We set out from our hotel in search of a very famous ‘dhaba’ called Kulwant Bhai Kulchewala. The dhaba was not very far from our hotel. We walked through narrow streets to reach it. It was a small place, crowded and people were enjoying the food. My husband and I had Aloo (potato) kulcha and Aravind had Paneer kulcha. Chole, onion-tamarind chutney and gooseberry pickle were served as side dishes. We also drank the famous lassi of Amritsar. It was very tasty.
Feeling full and satisfied we set out towards the main square. It was a cobbled square teeming with people. The aroma of delicious snacks being fried came from all sides, mainly pakodas. We sat on one of the wooden chairs, just looking at people. A small boy came selling ball pens. He kept insisting that we should purchase from him. We bought two. They were good. There were shops on either side. Some were selling clothes, mainly salwar suits with Phulkari work. Others were selling shoes called Punjabi Juttis. Woolen clothes and pagdis (turban) were on sale. Wagah border between India and Pakistan is a popular tourist attraction. Taxi drivers were calling out to people to hire them. But we did not want to go to the Border. We never even considered going there. We entered a Tibetan handicraft shop. Aravind purchased a Singing Bowl and a Pashmina shawl for his sister.
( To the right of this gate is the Partition museum)
From there we walked on to the Partition Museum. It was opened in 2016. Every step inside the building was an emotional experience. People from South India can never truly understand the horrors of the partition of our country. We came to know about the life of those people affected by the partition stretching from the early 1900s till after the division of the country in 1947. The seeds of the partition lie in 1905 and 1906, when initially Bengal was partitioned on religious lines, and later there was a rift between the Indian National Congress and its Muslim members. I am really grateful to all those people who got together and carried out the research to make the museum a reality. It would be wrong to forget some events in life. We spent several hours there.
The historical Jallianwala bagh was at one end of the square. That was the place were innocent people were massacred one hundred years ago. We grew up reading about it.
It was time for lunch and we set out in search of another eatery called Kesar da Dhaba. We asked one person the direction and he told us about another restaurant nearby. He said it was a much better one. We went there but no one seemed interested enough to ask what we wanted. We walked out. We decided to search for Kesar da Dhaba. We walked along narrow roads and people told us to go straight and then left and then right and so on 😊. It was a veritable warren of lanes. There were small eateries selling pakodas and carrot halva and so many other things. The lanes were very narrow and on top of that two wheelers were parked on one side. Shops on either side were selling many glittering things, I think mainly for tourists 😊. Cycle rickshaws and motor bikes were being driven here. We had to be very careful while walking. At last we reached the place. It was very crowded. We had to wait for ten minutes for a table. The waiter told us that my husband and I could share a plate. It was good of him to tell us that otherwise it would have been a little too much for us. There was two chapatis, dal, rice, boondi raita and pickles. We drank lassi. Aravind had aloo paratha, lachcha paratha and kadi. The food was tasty but too greasy for comfort😊. But it felt good in the cold weather. At home we use very little oil and in Punjab we felt too much of it was used in their cooking. But it is good to taste the local food.
We walked back to the hotel and rested for a while. At 6.30 we went to GT. We walked around then sat on one side, just soaking in the atmosphere of the place. We took Kada Prasad again 😊. This time we did not go into the shrine. There are hundreds of people going in at all times. We went to the Langar hall for food. Today we were served roti, black dal, rajma and rice kheer. We walked back slowly to the hotel. A wonderful day.