Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day

New Delhi, Old Delhi, I don't know if I can tell the difference between the two.  Yesterday we ventured into Old Delhi (via car and then rickshaw!) to visit the Bina factory.  This is where some of the world's finest harmoniums and other Indian instruments are made.

So, how does one get into the Bina factory?  Well, apparently first you have to know where to look.
 A narrow stairway on a busy city street leads you up to the showroom.  We didn't have an appointment, but we got lucky and arrived when no other customers were in the store.  I had the opportunity to try several different harmoniums, "noodling" around with my Western musical ear.  The salesmen were obviously better skilled at playing than I, but they politely let me go at it.  I seriously felt like a kid in a candy store- what better way to spend Valentine's Day?

Eventually, they brought out what they called the "Mercedes" of Binas.  Even the case on this thing is absolutely gorgeous.  The keys are light and springy, the stops pull out with the greatest of ease, and the air pumps through for what seems like forever.  And yes, I even cranked out a few verses of the Hanuman Chalisa right there in the showroom.

Once we decided on which one to purchase (you guessed it, the Mercedes!) we went upstairs for a tour of the factory.  It's not what I expected!!  Little rooms, all open to an outdoor corridor.  In each little room, one or two men were working, either assembling the cases, applying varnish, etc... we were able to watch one man gluing the keys onto the keyboard.  After the tour, we went back downstairs to complete our purchase- and got to sit in the factory owner's office drinking chai while he wrote up the sale.  We don't think his name is really Mr. Bina, but that's how we'd like to think of him!  It was pretty surreal, actually.

After that, we visited the Swaminarayan Akshardham, which is the location of the Akshardham Mandir, which is one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. It's also one of the newest- having only opened in 2005.  Picture taking is prohibited, but I found a few on the interwebs.  The carvings on and in the building and surrounding gates were most impressive, especially the 140 pink sandstone elephants that surround the base of the mandir.

After that....we finished up the day at a Sufi mosque and heard some kawali kirtan, and then met friends for dinner at the posh Oberoi hotel.  Overall, I'd have to say it was a most exotic Valentine's Day!!  Not your typical flowers and chocolates.  I hope your Valentine's Day was full of love- love for life!!

No comments:

Post a Comment