Pune Adventures

Today, the morning was spent on work email. But this afternoon, Ken and Fred arrived from Germany, and Jeetendra joined us to go on an excursion. We started with some shopping in one of Pune's shopping districts - Ken wanted to buy some things. I may or may not have bought anything - only me and Mr. Visa know for sure. Anyway, I caught this picture of one of the oldest wooden buildings in Pune, with hand-carved wooden decorations:

After wrapping our shopping up, Jeetendra took us to a combination theme park / restaurant named Chokhi Dhani - it's kind of like a Rajasthani Cultural Center, or maybe a North Indian Standing Renaissance Faire. The buildings are decorated up like historic buildings in Rajasthan, and there are various exhibits, activities, shows, food, etc. scattered throughout the park. Here are Ken, Fred, and I saying "Namaste" to you all along with Chokhi Dhani's plaster host:

This is the main entrance. They really go for the electric lights, which really add an ambiance to the night:

Just inside the main entrance is a temple to one of the gods - I believe this is Krishna - the flute, the cow, and the leg position give it away:

On entrance to the restaurant, everybody is given a mark on their forehead - I think this is the "tilaka" - according to our guide Jeetendra, Rajasthani hosts give their guests the deference and service due a god, and so the mark symbolizes the guests' closeness to the god:

As you can see, Krishna has one too:

Once inside, looking around, there are many little booths with food, games, souvenirs, and entertainment scattered around - very much like the Renaissance Faire:

After getting some mildly spicy appetizers, we moved on to watch a dancer perform with nested bowls on her head:

On our way out, I also captured a video of the non-bowl portion of her dance:

While watching the dance, I noticed creatures flying into the fruit trees over our heads, and flying away. Bats! Large fruit bats. I managed to snap this picture:

Zooming in, you can see the bat in all its glory. Pretty cool:

Moving on, Fred had his palm read (I told them that I preferred mine to stay pink). Sitting next to Fred is Jeetendra, who is interpreting the palm reader's predictions:

Upstairs from the palm reader, a vendor was cooking flatbread on an iron griddle over a wood fire:

And another dance - this time, with fire! (dancing is always better with fire):

For our last entertainment before dining, we watched a brief puppet show. It was mildly amusing to me, but the native Hindi speakers were laughing hilariously. I'm guessing it was *really* funny to them:

And, finally, the food. Here's me sitting cross-legged in front of my first serving:

And Ken, Fred, and me all doing the same:

Finally, after eating, we picked up some keychains we ordered. They inscribe your name on a grain of rice which they place in a glass vial with a liquid - this serves as a magnifier. I asked for my name to be written in Devanagari:

Jeetendra assures me that this is a phoenetic spelling for a name, not just a transliteration. I'll need to brush up on my Devanagari to verify it.

That's all for tonight - time to hit the sack to avoid Jet Lag Part III.


sfauthor said…
Great photos! Do you know about these Devanagari books?


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