+ Russell Peters
No joke: comedian Russell Peters, who says he loves Asia, gets back to his roots when picking his favorite spots. CHRIS KUCWAY finds out why
Published on Aug 3, 2010
Russell Peters points the way to the Taj Mahal.
I really enjoy all of Asia as a continent, but I would have to say India feels like home to me. Apart from the obvious reasons—I’m Indian–Canadian—I like the rich history and the sights. You may have seen hundreds of photos of the Taj Mahal in Agra but being there in person is even better. Also, the sounds anywhere you go in the country and most of all the food.
What makes India, and really all of Asia, different from North America is that every night feels like Saturday night. In most of the big cities, the streets are always crowded, there’s usually music playing, and there’s always the smell of great food from street vendors. To me, it’s amazing how they maintain that energy every day.
India also has fantastic hotels. On my last tour we stayed at the Oberoi Grand in Calcutta—yeah, that’s right, Calcutta, not Kolkata!—and you simply can’t touch the service there. In Bombay, we stayed at the ITC Grand Central, which also was spectacular.
As far as food goes, I love the street food, again particularly in Calcutta and Bombay. I eat a lot of the stuff that they cook on the side of the road—puchkas dipped in mysterious-looking tamarind water, the kati rolls (masala chicken wrapped in paratha). For the less adventurous, the hotels all seem to have great biryanis too.
RUSSELL’S INDIA FAVORITES
Oberoi Grand Hotel An unexpected dose of Victorian architecture and modern amenities in the West Bengal capital. 15 Jawaharlal Nehru Road; +91 33 2249 2323; oberoihotels.com.
Taj Mahal Most know that it took 22 years to complete India’s most famous site, though what isn’t as well known is that 28 varieties of precious and semi-precious stones are used in its inlay. Open every day except Friday, from 6 A.M. to 7 P.M.
Mumbai Street Food For street food and surly waiters, try Swati Snacks, opposite Bhatia Hospital (248 Karai Estate, Tardeo Road; +91 22 6580 8406). For the real deal, if you’ve got a strong stomach, head to the stalls behind Churchgate station. Just remember to choose hot snacks, vegetarian too.