Today, we explored old town Lhasa and my was it wonderful! The old city could aptly be dubbed the Wild wild west of the East. Men in cowboy hats gathered around, women selling beaded necklaces on the pavement and children frolicking in the cab of a horse cart. The experience was surreal and I felt like I was on a movie set. As I walked down the cobbled streets, I suddenly felt transported to a different time period but only till one of the old Tibetan ladies whipped out her IPhone to show me how much it would cost to have my hair braided. The paradox was comical.
The shopping area was organised in such a way that each street had stores selling one particular thing. This made bargaining pretty entertaining. By lunch time, we had navigated Stinky cheese Street, Temple Street, Jewelry street, Meat Street, Shoe Street (named by me for convenience)
Many people recognized us as Indian and I distinctly remember hearing someone look at me and say ‘Namaste Behan’ and ‘Om namah Shivaya’. I found it quite amusing.
For dinner, we set out on a culinary mission. Sanjeev Kapoor and his team had identified a couple of restaurants for us to try out while we were in Lhasa. Out of the five, Tashi and Snowland were close to where we were staying. We soon realised that an entire block was experiencing a power outage because of which Tashi had closed up early. That left is with Snowland, which was surprisingly still open even though there was no power. We were destined to eat a candle light dinner which was a plus but we were disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to document the that experience in camera due to poor lighting.
Somehow, we managed to contact the restaurant owner and asked him if we could use his kitchen and local ingredients to make biryani with Sanjeev Kapoor’s biryani masala. He was extremely sporting and immediately agreed. Thirty five minutes later, electricity had been restored and all of us were sampling the delicious biryani that Vivek whipped up. It was a total hit with the restaurant staff as well! I also gave butter tea a try since I had heard so much about it. It was refreshingly different and surprisingly light considering it was made with butter. Certainly an acquired taste.