dimanche 21 octobre 2012

Indian Quarter

I love venturing out to explore new, non-touristy quartiers* in Paris, and the Indian Quarter in the 10th is no exception. I love Indian food and all the yummy spices that go along with it so we decided to venture to Krishna-Bhavan Vegetarian Restaurant on Rue Cail (Metro line 2). I don't think anyone can eat as inexpensively and well than here.  You can have your choice of many Indian Vegetarian dishes - the servings are generous -  so be forewarned.... I ended up ordering way too much food. The meals are served on metal trays, if that puts you off.... well, sorry, can't help you.. The food is good and the spices used are authentic.  Top off with a cup of Cardamom tea and you are good to go.

If you are anxious to explore more, there are plenty of shops on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis to check out. The beautiful displays of Indian dresses are worth the walk along this street alone. Purchase 6 or 7 colorful Indian bangles for a song.  There are two big Cash and Carry's here - one on Faubourg Saint-Denis and the other on Rue Cail. Here you can find an abundance of Indian products as well as English/US products - real baking soda and powder and black beans!! It is fun to wander the aisles. All the products are not labelled in English so can be a bit difficult if you are not sure of a spice. However, the staff at both locations were very helpful.   If you want fresh Jasmine, head to the small florist shop on Rue Perdonnet, every Friday he has fresh Jasmine flown in from Chenai.  You purchase it on a string and the aroma is breathtaking.  I actually wanted to buy some on Wednesday, and he said no, come back Friday when it's fresh.

If you are feeling  a bit more bold, visit the Temple Ganesh on Rue Pajol. When you are first invited in, you must leave your shoes outside the door. So you can imagine, I worried the entire time of the ceremony that my shoes would be stolen and I would have to walk around Paris shoeless.  For a donation of about 8-10 euros you can participate in an Indian ceremony. You are given a basket of fruit and then the man gave it to me and waved his arm around the room.  This gesture, I interpreted, which should not have been an open interpretation, that I distribute my fruit around the room to the different "God"statues. The "priest" took the roll of ashes from our plate, said a blessing and smeared it on our foreheads.  Then we gathered with the other attendees for a short ceremony. The "priest" walked to each "GOD" statue and chanted prayers. I noticed that my fruit was the only fruit among these "God" statues.  When the "priest" got to one of the larger statues, he tossed my banana away in disgust before continuing his chant.  It was all my daughter and I could do not to laugh, we were beside ourselves and so very embarrassed. Don't forget this entire time, I kept sneaking looks out the door to the "rough" passer-bys who I was sure would steal my shoes, although why would they take some crap from Target I don't know.  After we endured this 45 minute chanting/prayer time, it was over and we were offered this huge plate of warm rice as a thank you.  I smiled took my rice and found my shoes, safe and sound, and we went on. Definitely an unforgettable experience and one not to be missed. After we found out, we were supposed to make a donation of the fruit to the "Gods"- just not in the place we put it.

This area may leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable as it is quite ethnic and a bit rough and tourists do look out of place. However it is a lively quartier worth a second and third and even beyond visit.

* neighborhood

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