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Mela Mela Mela……………

February 21, 2009

You might remember the post about the Amber Fort, when I asked you if you liked my shirt. Here’s the picture… just in case you haven’t time to memorize all the little details of my blog yet.


I got it at the SurajKund Crafts Mela in Delhi. It is open from Feb. 1 – 15th every year. Holy crafts, Batman! It is awesome! I bought dolls, tablecloths, boxes, kurtas (Indian-style) shirts, marble elephants, and even a Taj Mahal snow globe. And, yes, the snow globe has already been broken. And, yes, glitter looks very pretty on a marble floor.

They also had pottery, jewelry, saris, shoes, purses, furniture, kites, umbrellas, lanterns, yard decorations (oh, if I only had a yard), and booth after booth of authentic craft items from all over India and several other Asian countries.

We were told not to bring our camera because it gets crowded and it’s just one more thing to keep track of – humpf – I blog to differ on that one. It does get very crowded – but I am not sure what is so unusual about that – India is mega crowded – why would a Mela be any different? But we listened. Bummer.

Note to self – bring camera and video camera. We got there at about 10:30am – it opens at 9:30am – next year we will get there when it opens. Nothing really starts that early in India as compared to the United States. So at 10:30am, it was not crowded and you can park pretty close to the entrance. That means you can walk around and take lots of pictures – then return your camera to the car and shop away unencumbered. Next year, we’ll do just that.

There were amazing performances from around India. The performers were dressed in gorgeous outfits doing unbelievable things like dancing with five bowls on their heads. The musicians were magical. It was culture overload and it was fabulous!

Many of the crafters were making their crafts right at their booths.

And, yes we bargained. And we got deals. This shirt was $5. And yes, I put the decimal in the right place. Not everyone gave us the deal we were hoping for – but our new haggling philosophy is “no harm, no foul.” The worst they can say is no. And this particular Mela only takes place once a year and a billion people live in this country – there is no way they will remember us next year!

We learned a new phrase at the Mela – skin tax. Are you confused – fear not – I am here to ‘splain it. It seems that we, being lighter skinned than most people here, will be charged a skin tax. Translation – the prices are higher for us. Interesting. Sure. Unfair. Sure. Good to know. You bet your arse!

So at one point, Number One Hubby found some shirts he liked. He was standing next to an Indian woman who just happened to want to know prices too.

Hubby: Go ahead, tell her the price.
Crafter: Dumbfounded. And Silent.
Hubby: Go ahead, really, go ahead
Indian Woman: Smirking and looking away
Hubby: I’ll pay what she pays
Me: smirking – that’s my man

The crafter wanted to wait until Hubby was done shopping before he would discuss prices with the Indian woman. Hubby called his bluff and it worked. I really am not saying that we are always charged more – but skin tax happens.

What are the bathrooms like you ask – horrible – but worth it. What did we have for lunch, you wonder – are you really a fan, I wonder – we had pizza – Dominoes Pizza with a Coke. And for dessert? Cotton Candy. Some fair foods are clearly universal. Act II popcorn also had a booth. Of course, there was a lot of authentic Indian food if you are braver than we are.

If you want to know a really, really good time to visit us – that would be the first two weeks of Febraury – it’s not hot – and there is the SurajKund Mela. I am going twice next year – once with my family – and once by myself. It is one of my favorite experiences so far! And, yes, next year, I will have pictures.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2009 10:49 am

    Hello there, nice that you have already been to Sarojini Nagar…that is one of the bargaining havens in Delhi. There are many more markets that you can checkout while you are in Delhi (maybe you already have checked out some/all of them). Depending on where you stay, these may be not so far, far, or very far (especially in terms of commute time.

    Some good markets are Lajpat Nagar, Janpath, Kamla Nagar, South Extension, Greater Kailash I and II, NOIDA Sector 18 and all. Things may hace changed quite a bit beacuse I have’nt lived in Delhi for 6yrs now. I go there often, but as a visitor.

    Couple of easy language tip (that I joke about with my American colleagues here):
    Close the door = Darwaaza band kar. You could say “There was a banker.” 🙂

    Open the door = Darwaaza khol de. You could say “There was a cold day.” 🙂

    Enjoy. I would be happy to provide you with any tips or help. Just ask.


  2. February 26, 2009 2:05 am

    Settlers – it was quite funny watching my husband watch the vendor. Thanks for the tips on shopping – I used them at Sarojini Nagar and got better prices. I still have a hard time bargaining over anything less than 100 rupees – it just seems absurd to me – but luckily there is a lot here that is more than 100 rupees so I am getting a lot of practice in. I love the paper store in JorBagh – Rohit at Four Seasons – I have been there several times. Thanks for sharing – I hope you will come back soon.

  3. February 24, 2009 4:28 pm

    Thats a good looking shirt. I was laughing while reading how your husband handled the shirt seller.

    True, in India, the shopkeepers, especially the street pedlars tend to charge more than double to foreigners (especially caucasians) of what they would to an Indian. The rule to go by is, offer 1/4th of what they are asking and then you will get it for 1/3rd of their original asking price. Stick to your ground, threaten and act to walk away, and they will call you back.

    I am from Delhi, so if you happen to visit the Janpath/Palika bazar (a lot of street pedlars with very cool stuff), make the 1/4th to 1/8th.

    There are some good international grocery shops in Jor Bagh (a very affluent area in Delhi) that you may want to checkout.

    Cheers and all the best.

  4. February 24, 2009 12:14 am

    Loco – I wondered about that movie – when I saw the trailer – I thought that is not a good idea at all – but now I will have to check it out. And I LOVE my shirt.

  5. February 23, 2009 8:22 pm

    Skin Tax! LOL.
    You should do like Robert Downey Tropic Thunder. he almost got an Oscar for it (-; He even fooled me

    Nice shirt!

  6. February 22, 2009 9:33 pm

    Pam – just think June! 😎

  7. pam permalink
    February 22, 2009 8:39 pm

    i need note cards! am running out!!

    miss u!

  8. February 21, 2009 10:09 pm

    Tottsmom – no spelling worries here!

    Lola – I actually have been looking for an oinker – but I don’t think they are found of them here. At least not enough to make a little statue of one – but have no fear – I am persistent – I have my eyes wide open.

    Josie – there is beautiful paper here – very different from in the U.S.

  9. February 21, 2009 7:55 pm

    I bet you found some really beautiful handmade paper there for future card making. I am drooling just thinking about it.

  10. February 21, 2009 2:05 pm

    Cool shirt! The crafts fair sounds really great, but did you find me a bejeweled pig?

  11. Tottsmom permalink
    February 21, 2009 12:11 pm

    lol, note to self, check spelling before posting.

  12. Tottsmom permalink
    February 21, 2009 12:10 pm

    Awesom! I love craft fairs.

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