Category Archives: INDIA

The New Indian Rupee Symbol

This is pretty exciting – India has just adopted a new symbol for its currency – the Rupee! The symbol is a blend of the Devanagri “Ra” and the Roman “R.” It was decided upon from a contest, which received three thousand entries. The winning designer was Dharmalingam Udaya Kumar (who receives 2.5 lakh rupees – approximately $5,000 USD). Indian authorities say it will take about 6 months for the symbol to become standard in India, and 18-24 months for the symbol to be adopted globally. As a graphic designer I think that is a pretty amazing thing to be able to say that you’ve designed a symbol for your country’s currency – that is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities!
What do you think of the new design? I think it is really nice the way it blends East and West – and sure beats writing “Rs.”

India Quiz: Answers

Here are the answers to the India Quiz. If you missed the first post, find it here. Make sure and tell me how you scored!
  1. What is India’s national anthem titled? What language was it written in? Jana-gana-mana by Rabindranath Tagore. It was originally titled Bharat Bidhata, in Bengali. English translation: The Morning Song of India
  2. What are the 2 groups of islands called that are a part of India? Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal
  3. What is the most populated state in India? Uttar Pradesh (according to the 2001 cencus)
  4. Name 4 major religious groups in India. (Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Jews.)
  5. Which people group were known as the “head-hunters” of India? The Nagas – once very war-like, now Nagaland is a progressive state in the Union.
  6. How many officially recognized languages are spoken in India? 18 (plus English): Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Nepali, Punjabi, Manipuri, Konkani, Kashmiri, Urdu, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Kanada, Malayalam
  7. What is the name of the Indian language which is the longest palindrome in the Roman script? M-a-l-a-y-a-l-a-m – it’s the same forwards and backwards!
  8. What is the largest state in India? What is the smallest? Rajasthan – largest; Goa – smallest
  9. What is the National Flower of India? The Lotus
  10. What colors appear on India’s flag? Saffron, stands for courage, sacrifice and renunciation. White, symbolizes truth and purity. Green represents life, faith and chivalry. The blue wheel (charkha) is in the center. The current flag was adopted on July 22, 1947.

India Quiz

A couple of weeks ago – around my birthday my husband and I were in the car together and we started testing each other on facts from both America and India. We both did pretty well – and he was especially impressed that I knew bits and pieces of the Indian national anthem. I was also impressed that he knew most of the US national anthem – I did have to supplement a few words here and there when he got overly creative.

So I thought a fun post would be to let you all test your India knowledge: I’d love to see your answers in the comments section (answer them all or pick and choose!). I’ll post the correct answers in a couple of days. If you have another brilliant question that you think will stump us all, feel free to add to my list!
  1. What is India’s national anthem titled? What language was it written in?
  2. What are the 2 groups of islands called that are a part of India?
  3. What is the most populated state in India?
  4. Name 4 major religious groups in India.
  5. Which people group were known as the “head-hunters” of India?
  6. How many officially recognized languages are spoken in India?
  7. What is the name of the Indian language which is the longest palindrome in the Roman script?
  8. What is the largest state in India? What is the smallest?
  9. What is the National Flower of India?
  10. What colors appear on India’s flag?

Photo Thursday: Neemrana Fort-Palace

Neemrana Fort-Palace

I’ve already blogged about the fabulous Neemrana Fort-Palace here… but on the way back to Delhi from our Jaipur adventure… we stopped for the night at Neemrana. I think Neemrana is one of those destinations that few people know much about. It is not at the top of many tourist posters or brochures… but it gives you a chance to actually stay in a furnished fort/palace – which has been turned into a hotel! Because we were on our way home, we didn’t take full advantage of all the hotel has to offer, but I vowed one day to take my husband back and have a romantic, relaxing second honeymoon.

Photo Thursday: Jaipur Part 3

Amber Fort: Jaipur, India
Continuing Photo Thursdays with my Jaipur adventures…. (If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 it’s not too late to catch up!)
So for the next two days, we saw every square inch of Jaipur. I highly reccommend having access to your own car & driver 24/7. He was able to take us anywhere we wanted to go. In addition, I had an Indian friend who lived in Jaipur, so he met up with us for lunch one day and helped us map out where we wanted to go. One warning, sometimes the taxi drivers get a hefty tip or commission if they bring tourists to certain shops. The shopkeepers have a deal set up that if the tourists buy anything, the driver gets his cut. After our driver tried this once or twice we caught on and told him no thanks (unless we really did want to check out a place!). But my friend’s recommendations on some great local shopping were far better for our pocketbooks in the end! My favorite find in Jaipur was a star sapphire ring. When held up to the light it reflects a star pattern. Star sapphires and star rubies are pretty rare – but the most famous one is called the Star of India.
Our favorite part of sight-seeing in Jaipur was the elephant ride up to the Amber Fort. It was lots of fun – and a totally tourist thing to do. We even had an elephant traffic jam on the way up. And caught one elephant and driver napping on the way down! The palaces, museums and forts are beautiful and the world of the Maharaja and Maharanis actually comes to life in front of your eyes.
My only other word to the wise…don’t go in May – one of the hottest months!

Happy Independence Day (and Happy Birthday to me!)

Today marks India’s Independence from the British – 1947 was the year India was born as a sovereign nation. There are celebrations held throughout the country. Every year, in New Delhi, the capital, the Prime Minister will hoist the flag and deliver a speech. There will be a display which highlights India’s cultural diversity, and the country’s armed forces. If you are interested in the significance and symbolism behind the Indian flag, check out this link.
I happen to share my birthday with India’s. When I was a kid, I can remember thinking, “Nothing cool happened on August 15.” When I arrived in India, I discovered that the whole country celebrates my birthday, I decided that was… “pretty cool.”
Happy Independence Day!

Photo Thursday: Jaipur Part 2

Hawa Mahal: Jaipur, India

Last week, I started a new series of posts called Photo Thursdays. I left off the story with myself and my two friends in a hired taxi on our way from Delhi to Jaipur. I ended up sitting in the front of our taxi because the backseat was very small – and I suppose I got elected because of the three of us, I had lived in India the longest and my Hindi was better than theirs…hmmm that wasn’t saying too much! So thankfully our driver was very honest and worked for a reputable travel agency so we were well taken care of. Three girls and a driver stuck in the middle of the desert in one of the hottest, driest months of the year is not my idea of fun!
We arrived at our hotel late that evening, and checked in. We noticed quite a commotion, but didn’t think much of it. Later we came to know that it was an auspicious day for weddings, and there was one taking place in our very own hotel. Somehow the hotel didn’t have our room ready when we arrived, so they temporarily put us in the HONEYMOON SUITE – before coming to rescue us and give us our normal room – I suppose they figured the bride and groom didn’t need it for several more hours!
We quickly headed out for a late dinner at Pizza Hut! We drove through some crazy traffic, only to find that everyone in Jaipur was either getting married that night or attending a wedding that night. There were groom’s parties all over the street, grooms on elephants, and horses, with huge entourages leading them to their weddings. And the noise? Wow, that was something…there were marching bands and music blaring and people everywhere! The traffic was a nightmare…so by the time we got back to our hotel it was very late, but the groom was just arriving for that wedding. They were dancing right in the entrance to the hotel and insisted that we join them, so they paraded us along with the grooms party. This was my first Hindu wedding, so it was quite something to watch. The scenery was spectacular, and the hotel was gorgeous. They had the wedding outdoors in the courtyard. We stayed for a while but quietly slipped out when we had a chance – it was getting very late and we had a busy day the next day!
The photo above is the Hawa Mahal – a gorgeous structure. Here’s some of what Wikipedia has to say about it – click here to read more.

…It forms part of the City Palace and extends the Zenana or women’s chambers, the chambers of the harem. Its original intention was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen….The side facing the street outside the palace complex has 953 small windows, and the breeze (hawa) which circulates through these windows gives the palace its name, and keeps it cool even in hot months…

Check back next week for part 3 of our Jaipur adventure!

Photo Thursday: Jaipur

Central Museum, Jaipur

For a long time I’ve been wanting to dedicate one blog per week for photos of various scenes of Southern Asia. I spent three years living in India (and a short time in Nepal), so I have tons of photos from my travels. Some places are major tourist spots, like the Taj Mahal or a flight to Mt. Everest, while others will be of roads less traveled. Hopefully these photos will inspire you and maybe give you some ideas for next time you’re in the Indian subcontinent.
Today’s photo is from Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, India. It is also known as the Pink City (because many of the buildings are pink in color). Jaipur has a long history as a princely state. My favorite resident of Jaipur is Maharani Gayatri Devi. Reading her book, Gayatri Devi: A Princess Remembers somehow brought my visit to Jaipur to life. I found Jaipur to be one of the most beautiful, historic cities I’ve been to in India.
Jaipur is located about 267 km from New Delhi (probably a 4-5 hour drive). Some friends and I were visiting Delhi, and we decided to hire a car and a driver to take us on a road trip to Jaipur. We had lots of fun and a few adventures along the way. But I’ll save that for next Thursday… stay tuned for more on Jaipur!

Eating out in India

This looks like a fun blog to dig into… Eating Out in Delhi.

“While Delhi offers a bewildering array of eating joints, there is a tendency in the media to focus on those which make commercial sense to the media mogul, but which regrettably often make little sense to those looking for value for money and plain good taste. Consequently, most of us don’t even get to hear about the many unpretentious places which thankfully, still abound in Delhi, and which — whether elegant hotels or simple streetside stalls — offer a truly rewarding experience to the foodie who is willing to venture away from the beaten path. Eating Out in Delhi is thus an attempt to discover and share the hidden gems of Delhi’s food scene…”

It makes me wish I were in Delhi! I think I’d try Sancho’s Mexican Restaurant first – I’ve tried local Mexican restaurants in both Hyderabad and Bangalore.

I’ll be the first to admit that they weren’t your typical Tex-Mex that I know and love, but after suffering Mexican food withdrawals while I lived in India – both places tasted pretty good to me! I did discover that I preferred the rice and beans to the Indian-ized enchiladas, etc.

But I hear India is coming up in the world of Mexican fast food. According to this report Taco Bell is opening its doors soon. It was only natural since it is a sister company of Pizza Hut and KFC – both of which are mega hits in India. I’ve always thought that Taco Bell would do well in India, it is similar enough to Indian food (think tortillas = chapattis) and can be easily adapted for vegetarians. I half way expect to be ordering a Maharaja Quesadilla by this time next year…