Outside of work travels, Gurgaon itself has had a lot to offer. In our neighborhood itself, we initially made it a routine to take advantage of the “cooler” morning weather (usually 90°F/32°C) and head to the Joggers park around 7:45/8:00 A.M. In addition to making rounds around the park we also tried out the “open gym”, which was a set of assorted outdoor gym equipment, that looked more inviting than many indoor gyms.
Gurgaon also has quite a few malls including Ardee City Mall, Ambience Mall, Cyber Hub, and WorldMark all of which felt like different takes on indoor shopping experiences compared. In some of these malls and most other public spaces like the train station, more commonplace than in the U.S. and assumptively efficient has been entrance security. They always put bags through the baggage scanner and sometimes scan/pat down the person to ensure no dangerous items are brought inside. Shopping at some of these places has definitely been an experience. Most of these places have had fixed prices, so bargaining has not been a necessary skill just yet, but they do all seem to have something similar to my understanding of shopping assistants. This was definitely odd to us the first time we experienced it. As we entered an empty shop in the quiet mall on a random weekday, we were greeted very kindly but were a little confused when one of the employees followed in our direction and then continued following us. Whenever we’d look back his head seemed to be bent with eyes glued to the screen of his phone. After this happened a couple more times without a word uttered from him, our uncomfort drove us out of the shop despite the great things within. We realize now looking back, it was probably his job to help us with shopping and that if either they or we had attempted to exchange words, the strange tension could have been avoided.
In many of these malls, there are also movie theatres. We watched Bhool Bhulaiya 2, which met expectations as sequels do (1 has a special place in my heart). The theater had at maximum 30 seats, all of which were incredibly comfortable and had the function to recline. The classic sticky movie theatre floor was also missed and replaced with a clean carpet constantly monitored by doting staff. It was a pretty different experience.
Within and outside of Gurgaon we’ve also been lucky to be invited to a few delicious lunches/dinners with extended connections who have been wonderful people that have also taught us about Gurgaon/Delhi living.
We also ended up taking an Old Delhi Street Food & Sightseeing tour. Apart from the food, it was very cool to learn about the history of Old Delhi; hopefully, the incoming monsoon season won’t interrupt further Delhi exploration.
The food tour covered some of the cruxes of Delhi street food: Dahi Bhalla, Aloo Chaat, Jalebi, Chole Bhatura, Pani Puri, Paranthas, Masala Lemon Soda, and some sweets by the names of Rabdi, Firni, and Sheesh Halwa.
Outside of street food, we’ve also enjoyed the Indian counterparts of popular chains back home: Starbucks and Taco Bell. The variety of food choices at Starbucks definitely blew me away. As for Taco Bell, yes, adding “Mexican-spiced paneer” to food does make it better. Their Mexican-spiced paneer was a little life-changing in testing the boundaries of what can be considered a taco.
We’ve also been able to try more traditional classics including Madhya Pradesh’s poha, Dhaba’s kadhai paneer, a mixed Gujarati and Rajasthani Thali, and Haldiram’s Raj Kachori. Last, but definitely not least are our mango adventures. The highest honor definitely goes to tota puri mangoes with their perfect depths of both of sweet and sour flavor. Otherwise, we’ve been unlucky in catching different kinds of mangoes at the right seasonal period having tried both safeda and dasheri just as their time came to an end; however, our efforts have proven that any mango can taste great as lassi.