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March 20, 2012

Chapati for breakfast?

We had hired a taxi for a few days to drive us around Delhi and then to Agra and back to visit the Taj Mahal. Our taxi driver was very kind and would do anything for us, even though the price we were paying him was not overly high. The evening before our planned trip to visit the Taj Mahal he asked if we would like to join him and his family for breakfast in the morning. I thought this sounded like a fantastic experience and jumped at the chance!

So he collected us from our hotel at around 6am and we set off towards Agra. About an hour into the journey we arrived at his village. He lived a short while outside of Delhi in a small village. The streets were not paved and there were piles of rubble everywhere. The buildings were all of a grey bare concrete style and often didn’t have proper doors or windows. Even though it was very early in the morning there were many people out and about, and being India, naturally there were cows roaming the streets.

We left the car and walked through the dusty street towards his home. We had to walk up a couple of flights of stairs to his house. You entered via a courtyard; the yard housed some kitchen utensils, an outside toilet and an outdoor shower. I didn’t envy them showering in what will have almost certainly been cold water outside in the chilly Indian winter mornings.

Inside the house they had a lounge/bedroom where there were four chairs and a bed. They informed us that the parents would sleep in the bed and their several children would sleep on the very uncomfortable looking concrete floor. There was one other room in their house; a small kitchen with a hand full of very basic appliances

When they offered me a cup of chai I politely declined (I do not like to drink chai or any other variation of tea) and instead accepted a glass of milk. In response the taxi man quickly left the house for what I can only imagine was to go and milk a buffalo! The milk was brought back in a small plastic bag and was put on the stove and mixed with sugar and then given to me. Yum-buffalo milk straight from the teat!

By the time breakfast arrived I was very hungry, but also rather anxious! I am really not a fan of spicy food for breakfast, but hey…when in Rome and all that (or in this case India)…. I was also rather concerned of the prospect of ‘Delhi Belly’, not knowing what their hygiene levels would be like etc, but luckily I managed to avoid that on this occasion.

They gave us both a tray with some chapati and a selection of 3 dips. The first was red and looked (and subsequently tasted) extremely spicy, the second was a green medium spicy dip and the third a white creamy looking dip. However, before I began to eat I was informed that I should not eat the white dip because combined with the buffalo milk it would give me a poorly tummy!

This seemed a bit worrying to me, why would I get ill by eating something just because I have milk alongside it?! My boyfriend was extremely concerned as because he had opted for the chai rather than the milk, he was expected to eat it!

I don’t know the logic to this at all, but I decided they knew what they were talking about and that I should take their advice on this one and chose not to eat the white dip.

We were in the house about an hour in all before continuing on our journey, and it was an extremely insightful experience and certainly one that I won’t forget in a hurry. It is not very often that you have the chance to have an authentic breakfast in a rural Indian village with a family in their home. But if I do ever get the chance again I will definitely take them up on the offer, and perhaps this time I may even try the chai!

[Apologies for the lack of images in this post- I thought it was a bit rude to start snapping away at their home!]

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