tv CNN Special CNN May 3, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
♪ found something good in this beautiful world ♪ ♪ i felt the rain getting colder ♪ ♪ sha la la la ♪ sha la la la la la ♪ sha la la la la ♪ sha la la la la la la this house came to be built by dr. blake. who was in the company service. my grandfather came to be nominated to the council of state which used to be a part of british india. >> it was another time, one that few still remember.
the india before partition, when these rooms, this house, was part of the seat of power. >> i had the privilege of being born in this house upstairs. >> this was the maharajah's bed. i mean, his chambers are present. >> and it was the routine that we would all ride up into my grandfather's room to wish him good morning and we'd all come down for brek fast. >> the walls tell a story. many stories. >> there used to be a lot of animosity. there were two very divided classes in india so there was a lot of tension between the ruled and the rulers.
but that was a different time, you know. now i think back and it's more like a fairy tale. ♪ >> day one in northern india near the pakistan border. this is amritsar, the indian punjab's largest city. population, about a million. this is a part of india i have never seen, a place i have always been curious about, home to some pretty legendary cuisine.
in amritsar they have a saying, the best food can't cooked in people's homes. you find it on the streets. ♪ >> punjabis are known for their adventurous spirit as brave warriors who spread throughout the world, bringing great food with them. ♪ in fact, much of the good stuff we refer to simply as indian food comes from here. ♪
the punjab of the early 20th century saw some of the most violent resistance to british rule. and when the british finally cashed out in 1947, they carved off a huge piece, what is now pakistan. and it remains a potential flashpoint for conflict. but that's easy to forget when you first smell the food. >> there we go. kesar da dhaba, meaning side of the road food stall. there are countless dhabas to choose from in this town but this one is legendary.
>> see tony eat vegetables. and like it. >> to eat around this part of the world, punjab in particular, get used to eating a lot of vegetarian. india is one of the few places on earth where even for me, that's not a burden. >> what's that? i'll take that. right here, my good man. mm. that's good. >> in the punjab, meat or no meat, you are almost guaranteed a free for all of intense colors, flavors and spices. unlike some of the joyless vegetarian restaurants in my sad experience, vegetables here are actually spicy, all taste different, different textures. and served with extraordinarily good bread. it's got this multi-tiered crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle. it's a whole different experience. if this was what vegetarianism meant in most of the places that practice it in the west, i would be at least half as much less of
a -- about the subject. >> look, hippy, if you made bread this good, i might eat at your restaurant. mm. ♪ around here, one of the first things you notice that's different from the rest of india, turbans everywhere. the symbol of self-respect, bravery and spirituality for sikh men. this is the home, the spiritual center of the sikh faith, the fifth largest and maybe most misunderstood religion. in the heart of amritsar stands the majestic golden temple, the sikh equivalent of the vatican. sikhs are fundamentally against
any caste system, believers in religious tolerance, but they are just as fundamentally war-like when it comes to defending their principles and what they see as their territory. >> welcome to golden temple. >> thank you. >> today is gurpurb one of the most auspicious days of the sikh calendar. pilgrims from all over the world come to worship, walk the perimeter and bathe in the holy pool. all are welcome of any faith or caste to remove their shoes, wash their feet, cover their heads and take part in a simple meal. ♪
this is the langar a free vegetarian meal served to many thousands of visitors from every walk of life every day of the year. >> they serve 16 hours a day? >> 16 hour a day. >> for how many years? continuously? >> 300 years. >> 300 years. >> everyone doing the cooking, the serving, the washing of thousands and thousands of metal plates and utensils, are volunteers. the sound is extraordinary.
>> we have a beacon that everyone should serve, everything, money, mind, and body, should be served to other people free of cost. that's what we do. >> walking me through it all today, dhannwant singh for a religion so concerned with tolerance, where does the grand tradition come from? it's very, very powerful. >> powerful people, hard-working people. every sikh you have seen, when we get baptized, you must protect yourself, you must protect others and you must protect your country so that makes us what we are. ♪
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the ancient art of pehlwani date back to indian wrestling techniques that date back to the fifth century b.c. >> ready, start! >> training is rigid. this is not just a sport, but a way of life. wrestlers live and train together and have strict rules of diet and personal conduct. no smoking, no drinking, no contact with women. here we go.
♪ i took high school wrestling so that i could get out of gym class. i was a dirty, dirty fighter. it's an all too natural segue between the aggressive posturing of opposing bodies of pehlwani and this. the entire border between india and pakistan has only one crossing. here at waga. every sunset the border is officially closed with this bit of national theater. wearing nearly duplicate uniforms, the indian military and pakistani rangers partake in
a game of theatrical contempt. clearly it's a popular show. >> so where are we? >> we are right next to pakistan. >> india and pakistan were once one country, ripped apart in one of the hastiest, ill-considered partitions imaginable. beyond there, no more fence? >> no more fences. >> so once you get past there, you can go straight into pakistan if you want? >> the problem is, the thing is, india is trying to stop people from coming in, infiltrators, drug dealers, terrorists. >> udeh is working on a documentary about the india/pakistan border. >> no one wants to go to pakistan. >> no one wants to? >> in their right mind, to go into pakistan. >> that's a fairly decisive statement. so they put up the fence but the fence is on the indian side.
>> yeah. it's 150 meters from the border. >> so beyond that fence, still indian farmland. >> yes. >> so people who live over here can farm over there. >> farm over there. >> the punjab is a fertile region in an otherwise very dry country. this is india's bread basket. with over a billion people currently residing in india, every inch of fertile punjabi soil has great value. these are people who own land over there, then they put the fence, suddenly your life became difficult. >> exactly. they can only grow some kind of crops and they can't farm more than eight hours in a day. >> how long does it take to get back and forth? >> the border security force manage these gates so they have times when they can enter and come out. >> how much farther can we go before they start to get
worried? >> i think we can go to that pole. >> when india and pakistan were separated, the attempt was to try to draw a line across religious lines. >> exactly. >> drained by the colossal task of fighting two world wars, in 1947 great britain decided to end their nearly 200-year rule over india. in an attempt to prevent an inevitable civil war between the hindus, muslims and sikhs, the british commissioner drew up a new border. >> he was given two months. >> two months to create a new country, basically. >> people died because of the displaced men. unofficially they say two million people. >> in one of the largest exchanges of populations in history, many millions of people fled their homes. almost immediately, religious violence broke out on a mass scale. this is exactly what the
partition had been intended to avoid. >> do people here still have families over there? >> they do. when the line was drawn, there were religions which were split into halves. there are some houses where you enter from india and exit from pakistan. >> really. wow. >> this part of punjab and that part of punjab were once the same so the cultures are very similar. >> it's a popular metaphor for india. pakistan is twins separated at birth. >> we were never twins. it was one country. you could say dismembered. if you cut a body in two, they are not going to become twins. >> right. >> it's sad, you know? you can see them. they are doing the same work as you are doing. they dress the same. they look the same. but you can't talk to them. >> it is an ongoing struggle, an enduring cause of paranoia, visible all across the region.
want something good? really, really good? when in amritsar? something local, regional, iconically wonderful? you can't say you've had the amritsar experience until you've had a little kulcha in your life. kulcha, this is the iconic dish of punjab is this >> yes. ♪ >> kulcha, a perfect little flavor bomb of wheat dough pressed against the side of a very, very hot clay oven, slathered with butter and served with a spicy chickpea curry on the side. did i mention the butter? >> how is it? >> delicious.
>> everyone seems to be an expert on kulcha, including this lady. >> this is our radish. >> very, very, very good. generally speaking, punjabis are famous for being a warrior class. taller, bigger. >> yes. they're big. >> still maybe not fighters so much but still eaters. >> oh, yeah. big-time. yes. the religion doesn't matter. food is religion here. >> first time in amritsar? >> checking off my list of things to do in the punjab, i got to score some animal protein. it's time. i've been going all morrisey for two days now and frankly, that's enough.
i need chicken. we are nowhere here. where am i? >> it's very famous for chicken. >> when we are talking must-haves, tandoori chicken is just that. >> i have some lemon in this. you will enjoy it. >> oh, man, it's delicious. this type of establishment, dhaba? >> this is the most successful business here. anyone who open a dhaba tomorrow, it will be like this. >> but if you're going to have chicken it better be good. >> yeah. would you like to have something else? >> there's ground mutton? >> that's called naan. keema naan, mutton ball, dough. and the special ingredient, magic hands. believe me when i tell you, this
-- is good. so good that people snap it up the second it comes out of the tandora. hey, that's mine. mm. >> is it good? >> sensational. wow. >> people do love their food. >> i love eating. >> the movies and television in this country is fantastic. >> all the films are made -- >> i don't even understand why -- what's going on. everybody dances and sings. i don't get it. ♪ >> would you like to have something else?
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leaving the fertile plains of the punjab behind, i'm headed out towards the himalayas. in getting there, at least the way i'm going, hasn't changed much in the last hundred years. [ moo ] all aboard. ♪ this is going to be suboptimal seating. i don't think this reclines. thank god they have relaxed attitudes towards prescription drugs. before you enter the gateway to the himalayas, you better self-medicate. ♪ meanwhile, i have been like 24 hours without a bite of food. i arrive, it's like oh, there's snacks on the way. great. get a bag of peanuts.
>> truth be told, i'm an angry bitter man when i board. i'm guessing there ain't a p.f. chang on the way. kind of cute. a little train. it's so little. the universal tourist. go on the king kong ride. while my stomach growls, i become the kind of traveller i warn against. gripy, self-absorbed, immune to my surroundings. but as my brightly colored little train heads up into the hills from kalka station, known as the gateway to the himalayas, my world view starts to improve. the naturally bright colors of india start to pleasurably saturate my brain. the views from the window of ridiculously deep valleys, hundred-year-old bridges, it's, well, breath-taking.
my fellow passengers, too, are irresistibly charming. the school kids in their uniform cheer in unison every time we pass through one of the tunnels. [ cheers ] >> hip hip hooray! >> hip hip hooray! >> hip hip hooray! >> i had pretty much forgotten about my hunger until the whistle stopped at barog one of those, two of these.
>> this place is named for a colonel barog, the british engineer tasked with building the line. the station and the adjacent tunnel bearing his name are rumored to be haunted. it's delicious. already behind schedule and plagued by cost overruns, barog screwed up. when he realized the two ends of this tunnel didn't meet in the middle, he shot himself. it's the kind of personal accountability i would like to see more of, frankly. or is that just mean? all my snarkiness fades as one i reflect and one can't help but reflect on what it took to dig, drag, blast and tunnel one's way up this route back in the day. back in the beginning, making the trip to shimla required a somewhat uncomfortable three-day trek up the mountain by foot, or horse or hand-carried palanquin. the stats are impressive.
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when you look at that painting, when you stand out front of the garden and look out at the view, can you picture the way it was? >> i have been to many places where it reminded me of what shimla had been when the british first came and settled it. i have a penchant for such places. it is a kind of a prop that i feel. >> fond memories of british rule, maybe not what you would expect to hear. but kanwar ratanjit singh, reggie for short, his family was different. indian royalty with palaces, the 1% of the 1%. so life for reggie as a young boy was relative to the millions and millions of others his age,
enchanted. ♪ shimla is from a time before partition, when nearly the entire ruling class of british india would move to hill stations in the hotter months. shimla was once known as the queen of all hill stations. here, the colonials created england in miniature. complete with tudor architecture, rose gardens, afternoon tea. >> my grandfather, it was very difficult to describe. what did he do, quite frankly, nothing. but he entertained hugely. >> garden parties, fancy dress balls, elephant hunts.
♪ the remnants of british rule can still be seen. and felt. this is particularly true of one house. chapslee. >> my family was very fortunate that they were able to buy this house, because it was a famous house. >> the house was purchased by reggie's grandfather, the last maharajah of kapurthala. those brits really left beautiful buildings. >> from a distance, it looks much the same as it must have when the maharajah slept here.
check out the tub. ♪ >> locked in a constant battle against time and nature, barbed wire does little to keep shimla's ever encroaching monkey population at bay. ♪ stripped of their wealth and their kingdoms, the one-time royals all across india have had to either sell their estates or like reggie, turn them into hotels and guest houses in order to hold on. ring a buzzer and a servant appears.
they bring you hot water bottles at night, put them under the covers. butlers keep popping in, build a nice fire. >> a great facet of my childhood was how my grandfather entertained. his table came to be known as perhaps the most famous in northern india because he was a gourmet, connoisseur of food. >> tonight, dinner at chapslee, an elaborate anglo-indian menu from reggie's childhood. >> i will put on my apron first. >> my fellow guests, two of reggie's friends. raja bathil, a historian on the subject of shimla, and rakash barasut, the barrister.
>> so much history here. while i take a dim view of colonialization, it's very hard to resist the charms of a house like this. >> that's quite understandable, actually. you've got 100 years of very, very intense history funneled into a very small place. >> this house used to house the secretary of state. to the crown. >> this is eggs florentine. ♪ >> oh, that's good. >> this was a small town. >> small town with a very, very big government. >> shimla enjoys the unique distinction of having been the summer capital of india and surprisingly, it was the capital of burma during the war days. >> you have this tiny little village up on the hill connected
to the rest of the world by a narrow mountain path and they rule, approximately a fifth of the human race for eight months every year. in today's context it would almost seem bizarre. >> mulligatawny soup. a classic example of what we think of as indian food in the west but not at all. this was originally a soup made by indian chefs to accommodate british tastes, is that correct? >> it was something what you would call halfway between a regular daal, a lentil, which you would eat, and a broth. glace chops. mutton glace chops. basically, meat cooked in its own fat. it's a misnomer. this meat is not actually mutton. it is chevron. >> here, back before the rail line, it would be a difficult trip.
>> yes. >> but once they were up and running, i mean, there were many servants to look after your every need. you had a fireplace, a hearth in every room. >> and people on the regular payroll whose only job was to shoo monkeys off the grounds. >> wow. >> you would be carried around in palanquins a box, a curtained box. >> this man would stomp on the ground and the bells were jingle and the common folk would give way. and normally they were not supposed to even look in the direction. it was bad manners. >> right. >> it wasn't easy for the people who built the town. it was india that paid the bill for all this grandeur, for all this pomp, for all this show. >> they did it at all expense and with our money. >> at the end of the meal there is coffee, brandy and cigars in the sitting room. as one does, or once did.
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the monkey temple looks down on shimla, overrun by its namesakes. twisting up further into the himalayas i find myself at a place known as the land of the gods, nearly every village credited with having its own deity. getting there, you might well have an opportunity to meet one of those deities. as you tear around narrow guard-rail-free mountain roads,
overlooking terrifying dropoffs. >> i could do heights. i've done the jumping out of planes thing a number of times. but i feel it, you know, looking over a precipice like that one, i feel it in my knees. you know like if my knees could vomit with terror, they would be. they would be vomiting with terror right now. they should have little underwear stops on this road where you could get a fresh pair. every couple of miles it's like, oh, that was scary. overloaded buses, water trucks with worn brake pads, aggressive truck drivers can come whaling around the corner at any time. and they do, about every two minutes. squeeze your cheeks tight and close your eyes.
oh, the enchantment of india. the row remote locations of these isolated mountain villages has kept old traditions alive. ♪ village fair serve as opportunities for families who live very far apart to get together, play games, eat and partake on religious rites honoring local deities. ♪ quite a ride getting here. >> yeah. how you enjoy that road? >> white knuckles. >> meet hashim. he runs motorcycle tours through these parts. >> it's the holy grail of motorcycling. 100 kilometers on a trip. it's so unbelievable beautiful universe. >> a vegetable curry? >> a yogurt-based curry. >> vegetables again? surprisingly not a problem.
this is one of the few places in the world where i could eat vegetarian every day and i'd be happy. most of the people in this part farmers? what are they growing? >> corn, potatoes, peas. >> and weed? marijuana? >> loads. >> as an export product or for personal use? >> everything. a mix of everything. so you think you want to go check out the fair? >> yeah, let's take a walk through town and see what's going on? >> the occasion for all these villages to come together and specialize. people are busy in their farms. they're not going to come down and socialize with people. but this, you know, because it's autumn people are done with all the agriculture they are bearing down for winter. there's a lot of romance in the air.
>> end of the road. ♪ one of our roles here has always been to take away excess money from people who don't know what to do with it, who can't think of a better idea about how to spend their money. in the old days the mechanism for doing that was you'd throw it on a table. put that into the context of throwing away a bottle of seven-up in a club. we're slightly more honest about it. >> you're talking crass commercialism in the very best sense of the word. this is it. is it the cultural center of the country? we may not want to think it is, but is it? >> what is the rest of the country? i don't know. but it's that place where they
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