A Piece of Myself

Adalaj Step-Well: A Sandstone Jewel near Ahmedabad

Adalaj Stepwell

Adalaj Step-well

I stayed for three weeks in Gujarat last summer. A place I wouldn’t have had the idea to go to if I hadn’t had my friend Shubhra living in Ahmedabad. She took me to a must-see: Adalaj Step-well.

Gujarat is the state of step-wells; they call them « Vav ». Basically, step-wells are water tanks which collect the rain. The water was used for anything in the village, from cooking to religious rituals. There are about 120 step-wells in Gujarat. They were meeting places where rich and poor, men and women, villagers and caravan travellers went to, to get water, to enjoy the coolness of the depth or to pray under the carvings of hindu gods.

The vav I saw in Adalaj was one of them. You have to imagine that construction as a kind of underground five-storey building ending in a sort of staircase which gets deeper en deerper and which is decorated with hindu and muslim carvings: flowers and geometrical symbols for Islam, gods, animals and people in their daily lives for Hinduism and Jainism. The more you walk down, the darker and cooler it is. The water is still, mysterious, silverlike, and glittering with lucky coins at the bottom.

Shubhra told me the interesting legend of its construction and this legend itself epitomizes the usual Hindu-Islamic mixture you often find in Indian architecture:

In the late 15th century, a king called Rana Veer Singh decided to have a well built for his people who suffered from drought. The construction started but unfortunately, muslim Mahmud Begada, attacked Rana’s army and killed him. The muslim conqueror had taken Rana’s land but he also wanted to take his widow Rani. She didn’t refuse the proposal but she asked Mahmud to finish the step-well before the wedding. Once Mahmud had granted her wish, she knew her people was safe and to remain faithful to her dead husband, she ran to the step-well and threw herself from the top.

Now, even if the presence of the tourists inside the well deprives you of enjoying the freshness and the silence of olden days, the park surrounding the monument is the perfect place to have a nap under a frangipani tree or to have a picnic on the lawn. However, don’t think you could flirt with your sweetheart between the twisted arms of the large banyan because we saw on our way back, a group a policemen, sticks in hands, going to chase the shameless lovers!

A few pictures:

622

MTI playing the full with a broom...

MTI playing the rani with…a broom…

 

Hindu carvings

Hindu carvings

Banyan tree in the park

Frangipani tree in the park

640

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Gujarat, India in pictures, Voyages | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Celebration of Republic Day at the Indian Ambassy…

French article here and English extracts from Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s speech.

republic day

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Society | 2 Comments

Namaste 2012! Namaste 2013! नये साल की हार्दिक शुभकामनायें!

I wish you a good good good year 2013! I hope we’ll spend it together!
( It is funny, this post is my 100th post on A Message To India in English! Champagne and cupcakes for everybody!)

What are my good resolutions in 2013?

– Prepare a new trip to India!
– Learn more Hindi vocabulary.
– Tidy my desk.
– Correct my copies faster!
– Answer my mails and comments as soon as I receive them!
– Stop spending so much money on clothes!

But actually, if I don’t keep my resolutions, it doesn’t matter, I feel very well the way I am!

Thar Desert

 

Categories: A Piece of Myself | 4 Comments

Indian Christmas Presents!

This post is not an advert!

Hello! Hello! And Merry Christmas to everybody!

I must admit that Christmas is no longer an opportunity to give incredible presents to each other. One consumes so much all year that Christmas presents are not so big now. It is just a moment when I meet my family, decorate the house, have a good meal and a good laugh. However, I couldn’t help making Indian presents this year. My friends and family were not able to run away with it!

I swooped on a Diwali Shop rue de Rennes. There are about 8 shops like this in Paris. They sell exotic jewels and scarves. I don’t know if they really come from India but they are supposed to! It is not so expensive. The jewels are uncommon, the pashminas colourful and good quality. I especially like their little slippers and their bangles.

Diwali

Treasure from Diwali Paris

People who like reading can’t escape a trip to India thanks to Marilay! I bought two books I really enjoyed for my auntie: Serious Men and The Life of Pi.

"Le Défi Indien" is for me!

“Le Défi Indien” is for me!

This year, I tried not to forget the New Year cards. Let’s see if I’m courageous enough to write them and send them!

Cards

Cards

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Bookshelves, Fashion | Leave a comment

Hindi Night in Paris: Cinema and Restaurant

Article only available in French.

Turban legend...

Turban legend…

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Cinema, Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Heart slipped on your Smooth Waist… WHAT???

It depends on the way you interpet this sentence; it can be poetic or disgusting…

Anyway, I am lucky, we are working on this song. The choreography is energetic and sexy. Every Wednesday, I can’t wait to be in my dancing class to know the other steps! I let you see the extract from the movie, Rowdy Rathore (bad critic on that blog…) starring delicious actress Sonakshi Sinha and moustached Akshay Kumar.

 

 

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Cinema | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Poem…sort of…: No Time for Diwali

As busy as a bee
Work meetings, copies and Hindi
I have no time for Diwali

No fireworks, no diya,
On the road to Ayodhya
There is no light for Rama

As busy as Delhi
There is no ceremony
I have no time for Diwali

On A Message to India
Where is Lakshmi, where is Sita?
There’s no prasad and no puja

As busy à bee
I have just a freebie
For you, this महिली *

*lady

In Thar Desert, Rajasthan

Categories: A Piece of Myself, India in pictures, Religion | 7 Comments

Saravana Bhavan, Canal Saint-Martin, a friend…

The holidays are ending. I enjoyed my last day of freedom with my friend Valérie who learns Hindi with me.

She took me to Saravana Bhavan, a famous vegetarian restaurant, 170 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. This is a chain; you can eat at Saravana’s everywhere from the Usa to the Emirates. The food is really different from the Indian restaurants I usually go to in Paris. Very few stews, no cheese naans, no lime pickle, no alcohol except Kingfisher beer and of course, no meat! Most of the dishes are from the South; the specialities are dosas, idlis and thalis.

 

The food is very fresh, fatless, not too salty, refined which is quite unusual in an Indian restaurant. The only weak point; I found the sauces a little tasteless and the dosa was cold. But all in all, it was a good experience and the chai was delicious!

The atmosphere in the restaurant was warm. The customers were talkative and enthusiastic. Most of them were Indian, which is the sign it is a good restaurant. The waiters were smily and elegant. I enjoyed the modern, classy but simple decoration; a mixture of grey, black and white. It was very different from the fake zardosi Taj Mahal pictures, the elephant carvings and the former-Chinese-restaurant chairs that you can see in other Indian restaurants.  From one o’clock pm onwards people started to queue up on the pavement.

For all that you can see in the pictures, we paid 32.50 euros.

 

 

If you want to read a nice post about this restaurant, go to the blog Mistress of Spicies.

And then, a walk along the Canal Saint Martin, before the rain!

Canal Saint Martin before the rain

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Kitchen | Tags: | 3 Comments

%d bloggers like this: