Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wednesday, June 1st

Ruwngni’s birthday lunch before leaving for Corbett! Yes that poor dead chicken lived up to delicious hopes and dreams. He cooked a nice little lunch for a few people, and it was SO GOOD tasting. Yes, I could taste it, only a few things were seriously spiced. It was an interesting meal otherwise.

There was the pork there, but the meat cooked and served with the fat layers as well as the meat. I was told by new friend Glory that you should eat it all together, the fat and the meat. This is because separated does not taste as good as when it is together. A little too greasy tasting for me, but not too bad either!

There was also a dish of chopped up intestines and stomach. A mixture cooked in serious spices. I tried that too. The spices were nice to destroy any traces of weird flavor. The texture, however, remained the same. Like, epithelial noodles. Chewy and sometimes smooth (intestine), and other times more rigid (stomach). So very worth trying. And I didn’t cheat, chew three times and swallow the rest whole. A little piece of liver was in there as well.

He encouraged me to try these new foods. Also, because I am a guest soon to leave he gave me dibs to the choicest pieces. The bits of the bird usually bestowed upon the oldest sibling, or important family member. Well it’s a good thing he was so encouraging, and a good thing his friend, Glory (?) backed him up so I knew he wasn’t just pulling my leg for the sake of amusement. He had put these cooked (yes, it was all cooked) scraps in a separate bowl.

You know the red crown on top of the chicken’s head? It kind of looks rubbery? Yeah…I ate that, right from the dead chicken’s decapitated head. Chewy. Tastes kind of how it looks. Sorta meaty on the inside. ate all, but saved the last bite to share.

Then he disappeared into the kitchen and came out with two halves of the chickens skull. He cracked it open, right down the middle. Glory, who had photographed and cheered me on when I tackled the chicken’s red crown…showed me how to eat the brain. Together, we picked up the itty bitty pieces of (cooked) brain matter. White-ish grey-ish. Tasted soft and mooshy. She told me the softer it is the better it is. Tasted kind of funky.. but again, not bad!

She told me I handled it better than a lot of other people she knows. Some would throw up just looking at it. A lot of vegetarians will not even look. My somewhat brave, somewhat nervous, and only slightly disgusted faces (at the initial notions especially) were pretty good according to her. She said I was Fear Factor Level 5!!!! Woohoo! I’m not gong on any gross freaky tv show like that one, but I feel accomplished and barely queasy at all!

Thank goodness for the support and encouragement though, at least by those two. Everyone else had the same basic objective opinion. Not that I blame them at all… Plus, I think they found my adventurousness rather amusing.

I think we are not using our food to its fullest potential back home.

JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK

If one goes anywhere from Delhi via train, all the forewarning in the world will not be enough to prepare you for Delhi’s train station. It sits all nice looking and busy hectic on the outside, right near the Red Fort. (old fort??? There IS a difference…))

Inside is chaos. Redefined chaos. People smash in next to each other so tightly, I am thankfully in a group that has convenient Tall Joel. Tossed your stuff on the security belt, then crowd around the other side to snatch up your bag before someone else does. I am somewhat certain I was nearly pick pocketed. A little old lady “bumped” my bag, with her hand. If I didn’t have it zippered closed with the zipper under my eyeball, and the strap in my hand I would have elbowed her in the face. But I was not completely sure that I was not just assuming the worst. She vanished when I turned my head and eyeballed her though. WIN! Count the small ones.

Inside, people waiting had no benches, instead they sat, slept, ate, or played with small children on the floor. A floor you would no want to touch with big toe. When areas of people were too crowded, luggage was frequently balanced on the holder’s head…in order to better wade through the masses. Not a bad sounding plan at all, I actually considered it when I was all but lifted off my feet by bodies being pressed against me. Sweaty from 110F plus packed-crowd-body heat. My sweat? Or the people next to me?

For under $10, we got an air conditioned sleeper car for the 5ish hour long train ride. The Bennetts were fantastic enough to invite me along to join them on their safari vacation. We made friends with the lady and her son who sat across the isle from us on the train. We shared our teddy graham cookies with her young son, and she insisted we try some of the Okra lady fingers, in Pudhi (poodhi???) bread that she had. (the bread was separate from the Okra, but she wrapped it up in the flat bread and handed it across the isle so that we all got to try some. It was really good! Not too spicy, lots of flavor.

Spent the rest of the trip on the suspended top bunk sleeping. Could have done it curled up, but they distributed clean sheets and a pillow for sleeping comfort. So I scrambled up the side railings they had for stepping and zonked.

When we arrived, the train let us out on the opposite side of the tracks. No platform. You climb down the ladder type stairs they have from the doorway that was 5 plus feet from the ground. The Indian lady we met managed it in a sari! Wow! Then we hopped across the tracks with our bags and clambered up the other side onto the platform. I suppose that is standard? No one else seem befuddled by crossing a couple sets of train tracks.

Our driver picked us up in the jeep which we would belovedly bounce in for two days, and took us to the Wild Crest Resort.

The best part? While we drove in between the main town to the resort, you could look up and see so many stars. I have missed seeing the stars, Delhi’s night sky is nothing but a dark haze, lit up by the city lights that never go dark.

I had my own room! we were all in the same cluster of rooms in one building, and I was sandwiched inbetween Luke and Joel and Mr. and Mrs. Bennett’s rooms (so I could hop out a window and be at one’s door. Or open my door and bang on the other’s window.

By india’s standards, the place was top drawer!!! Wooden floors. Clean double beds. An airconditioner turned on full blast by the management who showed me the room. A television with one or two English channels too! Drapes covered the big windows to the side of the room. A garden and tree was outside the door, with a little sidewalk leading up to my door. Flowers an vines were outside my window.

Although I am sturdy, strong, independent type. I slept with a light on. The fan full blast, because the room had random bugs and mosquitoes about and I figured with the ceiling fan on, and the breeze on my skin would discourage them landing on me. It worked! after I brushed a few struggling dead insect bodies off my pillow. (thank you anti bug plug in on the wall.)

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