Nothing like starting with chocolate and ending with more chocolate. We just finished a two week India yoga and cultural adventure through southern and northern India that was so relaxed and frenetic, deeply spiritual and perplexing, fun and despairing, and at times challenging, but every day provided one unexpected and insightful adventure after another.
As a traveler if you are open to the experience India inevitably presents it teaches us in so many ways. And I know from previous travels here that nothing is as it seems and like our guide Herendra told us when someone commented on pigeons flying overhead, “Everything has meaning.”
On this last night of our Yoga Cultural Adventure it was Valentine’s Day, Scott’s birthday, and our 26th wedding anniversary so we needed a place to celebrate life and love! But of course, here in the heartland of the Kama Sutra, every restaurant was full of friends, family and couples celebrating love. So, what better solution than to dine in the home of a local family in a quiet Delhi suburb. This was the second time on our trip that we dined in a local home, and typical of a successful middle class Indian family, our hosts Neha and Anmol Gupta kept adding floors to their home to accommodate his mum and dad, his brother and various extended family upstairs and down.
We greeted with marigold garlands and given a tikka on the forehead by our hostess as we reached the top of the stairs on their rooftop terrace where a traditional Rajasthani duo were playing an old world wooden clarinet and sitar. The only thing missing from Anmol’s well-stocked tiki bar were the torches, but candles were lit up the circular staircase and around the perimeter of the terrace where we stood around the cozy coal fire enjoying India’s Sula Cab-Shiraz and Kingfisher beer.
Lightening lit up the dark New Delhi sky, thunder boomed, and a monsoon rain shower blew in and just as quickly expired but not before adding yet another element of surprise driving into the house for a tour of Neha’s kitchen where she gives cooking lessons and Anmol’s bedroom where he proudly showed us his photographs from their travels to Thailand and Ankor Wat in Cambodia.
As the night wore on we felt so much like family someone in our grouped joked about sleeping on the couch, to which Anmol replied, “Oh yes, please do, and it’s a very comfortable couch. I should know!” to which we all laughed at the common fate of husbands who do wrong and get kicked out of bed.
It was just after arriving, greeting and getting our drinks, they lit up chocolate anniversary cake for “Kurt and Anee” and immediately thereafter another fire was lit on a birthday cake for Scott. Then we had appetizers, dinner and tasty homemade Indian deserts.
On our final night together we reached back to the hotel at 11:30 but before heading back up to our room the hotel staff called us all into the dining room to fire up another surprise chocolate cake that read, “Happy Birthday, Mr Scott”. This night was a metaphor for our first two weeks in India that felt like it started with chocolate at our yoga retreat in Goa and ended with chocolate and love on Valentines Day with our family hosts, Neha and Anmol!