Nellu and I had run around China like crazy people. Even in our final days in the country, we took the train from Shanghai to Hong Kong, the subway to a ferry to a cab to Macau, a bus to a ferry back to Hong Kong and a subway to a bus to the sleepy fishing village of Tai O on Lantau Island before getting on a flight for Delhi via Bangkok. (For our all comings and goings through Hong Kong, we now have six stamps on our passport just from their immigration officials.) It was all worth it but that kind of traveling can really take its toll.
I promised Nellu when we reached Delhi we would stay in one place for at least a week. We found Mala Bindra B&B through Trip Advisor, which stood out not only for its chic simple style but all of its reviews were positive – in fact they were all glowing. Phrases like “we particularly enjoyed the delightful food and the thoughtful and attentive staff,” “everyone feels so comfortable here,” “Only stay at Mala Bindra’s if you want a fantastic experience in Delhi,” convinced me that we stumbled on a gem and I confirmed the reservation as soon as I realized.
When we arrived at the door, Mala and her husband Gurpreet invited us into their living room for introductions and offered us chicken wraps and mango ice cream (heavenly). We must have talked to them for more than two hours when we first arrived, meeting both their daughter Nyamat and son Kabir. When we were getting ready for bed that night Nellu turned to me and said, “We should see if we could stay here for a few more days.” We ended up staying with them for eleven nights on our first go around and made sure to book some more time with them at the end of our India walkabout before taking off for Thailand.
For the next couple of days, we took it easy. In fact the first day, not only did we sleep in but we actually didn’t leave the house. We spent the day catching up on emails and working on the backlog of pictures, videos and blogs. We had a late, very full brunch at home and ate dinner with the family as well. Mala, who has a thriving business making cakes, also shared with us the “cake tops” to one of her delicious chocolate cakes with afternoon tea. A little piece of home, even if it’s not technically our home, was exactly what we needed. Why leave?
We did eventually venture out of the house but took it easy not rushing to see all that Delhi had to offer in one fell swoop. And we got a lot of advice from the Bindras on where to go, what to see, how to get there, and what to avoid. The pace of sightseeing was even easier here than in China partly because we did considerably less walking (more on our auto rickshaw experiences to come!)
We ate out for dinner a few nights (we were so full from breakfast that we rarely needed more than a quick snack for lunch.) But we quickly realized how nice it was to have dinner with the Bindra family at home. They’re the type of family that wants to make sure their guests are completely satisfied. You often hear, “What can I pass you,” even when you still have food on your plate. They’ve introduced us to different traditional Indian cuisine. Oh and the desserts! You can imagine that we’ve gotten lots of Mala’s tasty cakes but there’s always more! (And you cannot underestimate how wonderful it is to stay in a place where the smell of cakes regularly fills the air). There was one day that we had not only butterscotch ice cream but fresh chocolate cake with a hot fudge frosting for dessert. I know it was gluttonous but I ate it all. You just don’t get that kind of food love on the road.
As good as the food is…it’s only second to the company. We loved sitting around the dining room table sharing stories with the family. By the end of our time there, we joked that we were vying for adoption. Nellu eventually started referring to Mala as “our Mom” and Gurpreet as “our Dad”.
The whole family really went out of their way to help us and make us feel more at home. There was one Sunday, when Nyamat woke up early with me to take me all the way across town to try out a yoga class. We were also invited to come out with the family to a fundraiser for her work at the Real Medicine Foundation. You can find more information (and donate!) to this very worthy cause by clicking here and here. Not only are they fighting malnutrition in the impoverished area of southwestern Madhya Pradesh but they’re also working to bring education to tribal children.
On this trip, we’ve found when people open their lives to you in such a manner, it makes you feel more like you belong in a place rather than just passing through. When you feel more at home, its easier to open up and enjoy.