Since reading Shantaram, a 1000-page book set in India, I’ve felt desperate to visit India. The charming, quirky personalities, the vast uniqueness of the culture and the beauty of the land itself described in the novel left me daydreaming about what it would be like to experience it myself.
But, I was hesitant. Despite hearing so many wonderful things about India, I’d also received warnings that it might not be the best place to explore alone. I’m going to be honest. I was always that traveler who preferred to be solo; I never felt guided tours were for me. This Intrepid Travel “India Vegan Food Adventure” has completely changed my impression of guided tours. I expected travel companies to take their guests to the touristy restaurants, the safe bets. Without this tour and our absolutely incredible Indian guide, Chetan, I never would’ve been the guest in FOUR Indian homes, eating incredible home-cooked meals. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable eating at the street food stalls we visited (foreigners are often advised to avoid them for fear of travellers diarrhea or food poisoning), nor would I have been able to arrange/communicate the swapping out of certain ingredients to make dishes vegan, like chai (our guide carried around vegetable oil and soy milk for those restaurants that didn’t have vegan options). I felt 100% safe here. I truly commend Intrepid for being ahead of the curve and offering these vegan food adventures. The world is asking and they are delivering! And good news, Intrepid Travel has just launched vegan tours Italy and Thailand, too.
It’s now been just over a week since I got home from our eight-day trip to India and I can honestly say, it was more fascinating than I could’ve possibly imagined. At the end of each day, I jotted down diary-style notes about our adventure. Scroll down to read. If you prefer bullet-points, here are my favourite experiences, favourite bites and travel tips for India. (*Also scroll down for Intrepid Travel’s Vegan Food Adventures launch event happening at Juice Truck on June 12th. Join us! All are welcome.*)
Top 5 Bites
These are really hard to narrow down. Every single night during dinner, I’d tell my travel partners that this was the best meal of the trip. Here it goes…
- A home-cooked meal at Komal’s house in Rohini (suburb of Delhi): jeera rice, deep fried okra in spiced tomato sauce, homemade chapati, aloo gobi, and a bean dish. The second best part was watching the dinner be cooked by Komal’s mom!
- Masala dosa, vada (a savoury fried snack), sambhal lentils and coconut chutney from Hotel Highway Xpress in Behror (a tiny town between Delhi and Jaipur).
- Masala dosas and thali sets at Om Sarvana Bhawan, a popular restaurant in Delhi’s Karol Bagh neighbourhood.
- A home-cooked meal at Kaliani’s house in Agra: thali sets including baby zucchini, green beans, daal, potatoes in gravy (a taste of medieval Mughlai cuisine), eggplant, beets, chapati, rice.
- Soy chai from Mr. Shyam (a chai wallah with 35 years of experience in Delhi): made with fresh-crushed green cardamom and ginger root, this was the most fragrant, delicious chai I’ve ever tasted! We couldn’t get enough!
Top 5 Experiences
Again, really hard to narrow down as so many of these experiences were so unique and couldn’t possibly be replicated!
- Rolling chapati dough at the Gurdwara Sikh Temple in Delhi – this beautiful temple and its volunteers provide meals at no cost to 19,000 people daily. People from every faith and background can participate in the dough rolling and receive free food. I’ve never seen pots so large! What an incredible experience.
- Taj Mahal at sunrise – we woke up at 3:45am to get to this world wonder when it opened. We were the first ones in and it was magical (also the best time for pictures, obviously!). The red, hazy sunrise was out of a book and the two dozen monkeys who scurried over the Taj Mahal wall in our direction was a fun surprise!
- Rescuing Indian street dogs! (On my own time, separate from the food tour.) Stay tuned for a blog post on how you can help and rescue a dog of your own.
- Watching a Bollywood Movie in theatre – the movie experience is totally different in India! The theatre was beautiful. I felt like we were at a play. Thanks to translations from our guide, we understood the plot and got totally into the movie!
- Staying at the Kanota Castle, a heritage hotel dating back to the 1800s, which remains the home of royal descendants to this day. Also living on the property are several horses, two emus (and their babies!), multiple peacocks, chickens, eight dogs and a wild monkey or two. The luxurious rooms with original hand-painted ceilings were spacious, clean and regal.
Top 10 Travel Tips for India
- Get the optional rabies vaccine at the travel clinic before you go. It’s a bit pricey but worth it, especially if you’re a dog lover like me and plan on getting close to any of the dogs. To note: rabies is rampant in India and 20,000 people die of rabies every year there. Also, make sure to visit the travel clinic at least a few weeks before you depart in case there’s medication you need to take in advance.
- Fill your travellers diarrhea pill prescription the travel clinic doctor prescribes! They’re great to have on hand just in case you get it (about half the group I travelled with did).
- Bring a roll of toilet paper (you can buy special travel TP if you’re packing light). Not all the public washrooms offer it.
- Pack hand sanitizer for those times you want to eat but aren’t able to wash your hands (or the times you pet the stray cows hanging out on the side of the road…they are everywhere!).
- Learn a couple of words in Hindi (don’t worry, most people speak at least some English in India):
- Hi or bye: namaste
- Thank you: “dan-ya-vad” (dhanyavaad)
- Buy an electrical socket converter for Indian outlets.
- Order rupees from your bank at least a week before you depart (my bank didn’t have rupees in-house, so they had to order them in). You could also try a money exchange centre if you’re doing this last minute.
- Pack conservative clothing, especially if you’re a woman. It’s legal to reveal shoulders and knees in India, but it’s not respectful of their culture. Cover knees and shoulders at all times.
- Pack candies to hand out to child beggars. It’s best to avoid giving them money as this can fuel this very sad and sometimes cruel industry (which can involve self-inflicted bodily harm to inspire greater donations).
- Apply for your India Visa online here well in advance (mine was approved in just two days, but you never know). On their site, click “e-visa application” (orange button at top-left corner of page). You’ll need a recent coloured photograph of yourself (minimum dimensions are 350 pixels wide x 350 pixels height, size less than 1MB in JPEG format). I got mine done at London Drugs. Ask for a paper version (to bring with you) and a digital file sent to your email.
FAQ’s About The Trip
Q: Would you go back to India?
A: Yes!! After traveling to some larger cities on this recent trip, I’d love to go back to visit some of the smaller, more rural villages (or maybe Rishikesh, the yoga capital, home of Hari and Melvin!).
Q: Did you get sick / traveller’s diarrhea?
A: No! A few people in my group did, though. I ate at all the street food stalls that our guide, Chetan, took us too and was AOK. I did brush my teeth with bottled water to be safe.
Q: Was the food really amazing?
A: Yes! It was all truly so delicious! I couldn’t get over how much spice they use in their cooking (not the hot spice, just the fragrant kind like cardamom, turmeric, cumin etc). They also cook with a lot of oil. I may have gained a pound or two from the trip, but that’s because I couldn’t resist their offers of seconds.
Q: What are your key take aways from the trip?
A: 1) After seeing all the stray dogs (apparently there are 30 million), I’m hugely motivated to get the word out and help get as many of them as possible to safe, forever homes. Stay tuned for a post on how to help dogs in India! 2) I’m really motivated to cook with extra spices! Not the hot kind of spice, just ingredients like coriander, cumin etc. I’ll definitely be going heavy with the spices moving forward.
Q: Was it hard to see all the dogs in the streets?
A: It was hard to see everyone in the streets: dog, cows and humans. Seeing it in person definitely ignited a greater passion to help. It also made me extra grateful for all the things we take for granted here in Canada.
Have a question about the trip experience? Send me a message on Instagram (@erinireland) and I’ll add it to this list.
My Diary Entries From The Trip (+ Pics!)
Arrival – Thursday, May 17th, 10:30pm
We arrive in Delhi at night. It’s 34 degrees even though the sun has been down for five hours. The customs agent is friendly. I thank him in his language (“danyavad”) and he asks where I learned my Hindi. It was my only word! We walk out into the dark, hot night and head to our hotel with our driver and Intrepid Travel host, Libby. My first impression was that there were people and dogs everywhere, even on the side of the road on the drive in from the airport.
When we got in, my travel partners Zach and Steph and I were too excited to sleep, so we took a walk around our neighbourhood in Karol Bagh. We were overwhelmed by the number of dogs. Of course, we expected to see some. But not this many. In dark corners, under cars, in piles of garbage, they are everywhere. The ones we met were friendly with wagging tails. Others lay in the heat, immobile. There were newborn puppies, too. I want to take every single one of them home to Canada.
Day one starts tomorrow. Off to bed. Enjoying the hotel’s AC.
Day 1 – Delhi, India
Despite the jet lag, I couldn’t resist getting up early to head out and watch Delhi wake up. Steph was up too, so we cruised the neighbourhood together and observed a group of police officers huddled on a street corner each with a cup of chai in hand. Street food vendors were prepping ingredients, chopping onions, rubbing oil on their trolleys full of kala jamun or ‘black berries’.
We returned to the hotel to meet up with Zach and set off again to venture deeper into the city on foot. Not before long, a couple of determined locals glued themselves to us, insisting on being our ‘guides’. They followed us around for an hour despite our assurances that we didn’t need help or a tuk tuk (small taxi)…we just wanted to explore and wander on our own.
While walking the streets we watched sugar cane be juiced, cooks stir oily curries sitting on the ground in bare feet, dishwashers clean pots and pans with buckets of water in the street drains. The sights were fascinating. Never before had I seen so many people in once place. With a population of over 18 million, Delhi is a crowded place.
Despite being hungry, I didn’t feel safe eating the street food without a guide who could direct us to the ‘safe’ vendors. We did buy a pair of juicy mangos and papayas to eat later at the hotel, though. We’d have to remember to wash them with filtered water! (It’s strongly advised to not consume any of the Indian water.)
Later on, we met up with the full group of influencers (@eatwithandy, @happyskinkitchen, @khadiishtar) and took off on an hour-long car-ride to have lunch with the Devang family, owners of Devang House, an organic foods, supplements and products for natural heatlh company. We were invited into their lovely Indian home for an ayurvedic lunch prepared by Dr. Chhaya S. Chaudhry, who holds a PhD in Integrative Health after researching natural solutions to treat and cure Type 2 Diabetes. She and her children, Teyjas and Raadhia were the perfect hosts, leading us through a guided meditation and serving us an exquisite “tathi” lunch which included a three different curries, three types of homemade flatbread, the most amazing spiced potatoes, crispy papadums, sprout cucumber salad, a most delicious chia tapioca pudding made with coconut milk and a luscious platter of ripe fruit. Raadhia explained the importance of chewing each bite of food at least 20 times. This experience truly epitomized what most travels look for: the non-touristy, local experience. Home-cooking in an Indian home…healthy and nourishing, to boot! We were sent home with jars of organic turmeric, cardamom and natural toothpaste. Dr. Chaudhry has a sister who lives in Richmond, BC — small world! We look forward to staying in touch with this wonderful family.
For dinner, our group walked 100m from our hotel to Suruchi, a popular vegetarian restaurant whose name means “good choice.” Chetan, our local guide, taught us how to eat with our hands, Indian-style. Alcohol isn’t offered at many restaurants so we all enjoyed virgin mimosas. To eat, we had more thali sets (a plate filled with many different bites). These ones came with pakoras and millet bread served with a big spoonful of palm sugar. The meal was so colourful, delicious and naturally vegan. As we left, the restaurant began to fill with Indian families who were just beginning their dinners at 9:30pm. En route back to the hotel, we walked through the rubble-filled dusty streets of Karol Bagh — they were alive with honking scooters, tuk tuks, stray dogs, cars and of course lots and lots of people.
Day 2 – Delhi, India
Wow, what a jam-packed day full of so much amazing food!!! So full and happy as I sit in bed typing.
We began with breakfast at the hotel: a heaping plate of local ripe mango. We all agree they taste different here because they’re picked when they’re ripe, no sooner.
A trip on the metro took us to Old Delhi for our first taste of street food. So excited! Before we ate, Chetan, our amazing Intrepid Travel guide, made sure the chickpea samosas weren’t made with ghee. They were delish! And deep fried. No shortage of deep fried food here.
After visiting the stunning Jama Masjid, a local mosque, we went for chai…but not just any chai. It was made by a chai wallah with 35 years of experience. Mr. Shyam had been operating on the same tiny street corner for over three decades. Chetan brought soy milk for him to use because Indians drink their chai with milk. It was the first time Mr. Shyam had ever made a dairy-free chai…special day! it was absolutely delicious!!! One of the secrets to extra-delicious chai is grinding the green cardamom and ginger by hand. The chai wallah extended his spice-covered fingers in our direction so we could smell…he smiled with satisfaction at our reaction. All his hand movements were so quick and precise. The process was mesmerizing and the end product was so delicious, we all ordered seconds. He tried it too and seemed to like it!
Lunch was next. We visited a popular restaurant called Parawthe, which was overflowing with Indian guests. Again, Chetan offered a vegan substitute (veg oil) to the kitchen who was using ghee. It was an easy substitution and they didn’t mind! The cauliflower-stuffed deep fried paratha, dipped in a bright green chutney sauce, was amazing!!! So flavourful, rich and fresh at the same time.
We continued on to another amazing trip experience, the Sikh community kitchen that offers free meals to 19,000 people daily. Incredible!!! We helped roll out chapati and saw the biggest pots of lentils we’d ever seen. Ghee was used in the curries so we couldn’t eat much but we did sit in the community dining room, cross legged to try the chapati. What an amazing cultural experience and so inspiring to see such incredible generosity in this community. The meals are all funded by donations from Sikhs.
An hour-long drive bought us to Greenr, a modern ‘California-inspired’ cafe serving everything we vegans dream of! We had more chai, this time made with incredible house almond milk (was missing this!!!), mango ginger mint nutmeg smoothies, amazing cassava fries and sweet potato wedges with chipotle aioli. Being at Greenr felt like we were on another planet compared to where we’d just been. It was modern, stylish and clean. Anyone missing a taste of n American home will be grateful to discover Greenr. Soon they’ll open two new location, one next to the Delhi Google office.
And finally, dinner. Yes another incredibly memorable experience, hosted by Komal at her own home. She, her mom and her grandma had prepared an Indian meal for us and it might have been my favourite meal so far: jeera rice, chapati, aloo gobi, deep fried okra in a spicy tomato sauce and stewed beans. Everything was bursting with flavour. We got to join Komal’s mom in the kitchen to watch her cook. I loved seeing how much spices she used! Her ‘tablespoons’ are definitely larger than mine. We were so full from a big day of eating, but couldn’t resist enjoying a full plate of this amazingly flavourful food. During the evening, we learned so much from Komal about Indian culture, including details and current stats on arranged marriages (we were all very curious). We also got to play dress-up/ One by one, we entered Komal’s bedroom where her grandma helped us put saris (and a kurta for Zach!). A dance party ensued and Komal taught us Indian dance moves. Can’t thank this generous family enough for such a fun and delicious experience!
Day 3 – Travel from Delhi –> Jaipur
After a quick breakfast of mango in the hotel restaurant, we set off for Jaipur, the pink city. Unexpectedly, we ended up having what would become one of my favourite meals of the trip at a roadside eatery (aka truck stop) in a small town called Behror. The brightly lit place was filled with kid games and tacky tourist items. Never would I have guessed that our light lunch here would be so good. We were all served masala dosas, vadas (a savoury, slightly crunchy donut), coconut chutney for dipping and bowls of lentil sambhal. The dosa was fresh and crunchy, the chutney was chilled. It was delicious. Canada’s gas station food needs to step up their game.
Five hours later, we reached Jaipur by bus. Our first stop was a bustling Kachori restaurant. Despite tons of customers and pastry cases full of colourful dessert options, the floor of this cafe was completely torn up. There are no rules in India. Who says you need a floor to operate a successful cafe? We started with the place’s specialty: Kachori or deep fried bread filled with thick curry. The flavours were explosive! Not too spicy, just perfectly balanced. The outside bread or batter texture was thick and deep-fried — it was definitely a splurge. For dessert we tried almond barfi which tasted like marzipan. Each piece was coated with edible silver (done so for the gods…desserts like these are often gifted to them.)
After checking into our hotel, we walked the bustling streets and again were mesmerized by the street food vendors and the bustle of life here in India. There is just so much to observe at all times.
Dinner was again in the home of locals. A lovely family of five was our host and we were greeted with the music of a loud Indian drums. On a gorgeous outdoor terrace, we enjoyed a cooking class from the mother, Niti, who walked us through the making of pakoras and jeera potatoes. Everything was so simple and flavourful! Luckily we’ll be getting those recipes. After a puppet show and more music, we were served dinner on the patio and it was up there with one of our favourite meals of the trip. Our individual platter consisted of fried okra, lentil curd stew, chickpea dumpling, rice, jeera potatoes. What an amazing treat. I cannot believe the intensity of the flavours, thanks to all the spices. If it weren’t for the Intrepid tour, never would I have experienced something so authentically Indian. Home to bed for a very necessary long sleep!
Day 4 – Jaipur, India
Day two in Jaipur began with a visit to Amber Fort, a stunning castle up on the hill surrounded by a protective wall that stretched for kilometers. We felt like we were in an episode of Game of Thrones! If they haven’t already, they need to film here. It was straight out of the past and everything was larger than life. It was great to learn that elephants are being used decreasingly for transport up to the castle. More often these days people are hiring jeep drivers and leaving the animals be. Hoorah!
Next up: a walk through the town to observe ‘normal life’: older women preparing masala, juice vendors juicing huge stalks of sugar cane to satiate thirsty locals. We each had a cup and to be honest I was scared we’d get sick, but our guide Chetan was right again. The drink was delicious — never would I have trusted this vendor was it not for Chetan’s word.
Next we visited a textile shop where the prices were incredibly low. They told us we could order anything custom and it would be ready and delivered to our hotel within four hours. Wow!
Our evening entertainment consisted of a Bollywood movie. The theatre was nicer than anything we have in North America. Going to the movies here in India still seems like a special experience. The theatre was artistic and beautiful, not plastered in ads and littered with popcorn. Despite a lack of subtitles, we loved the movie! Chetan, sitting on one end of our group, would tell to Zach what was happening and, like the game of telephone, we’d pass it down the line. We left part-way through to get to dinner at a hotel restaurant not too far away. The meal began with a deep fried papadum topped with strong spices, tomatoes and onions. It was unique and the only dish we’d tried of its kind! The rest of the food was a thali set and very salty, yet flavourful.
Day 5 – Travel from Jaipur –> Kanota
This morning we said bye to the pink city of Jaipur. We were slightly delayed due to my hospital trip for a rabies vaccine. Earlier in the trip, a dog licked my mouth — I hadn’t realized it was something to be concerned of until my hubby found out and encouraged me to reach out to a doctor. I went to our guide Chetan who immediately called his uncle, a doctor. To be safe, he recommended we go to the ‘drop in clinic’. Chetan and I hopped in a tuk tuk and visited the chief medical officer who suggested that, just to be on the safeside, I get an injection of serum which would completely eradicate any rabies in my body. We zoomed off to the hospital, which was a cultural experience in itself. Chetan walked right in and up to a doctor who said he didn’t think I needed a shot, but that I could get one to be safe. I got two pricks to test whether I was allergic to the medication, followed by two injections, one in each arm. I thought I was done, but then the doctor informed me I was to get two more injections, in the hips. In the end going to the hospital was such a great experience — and an interesting cultural experience too! I was so unbelievably grateful for Chetan’s expertise in this circumstance. Couldn’t have done it without my guide. All this said, I wish I’d splurged on the travel clinic’s optional rabies vaccination before I left for the trip!
We all piled into our mini bus and hit the road for Kanota, a small town less than an hour away from Jaipur. Our destination was the Kanota Castle, home to Jaipur royalty. The sprawling palace, surrounded by castle walls, was a sight for sore eyes and by far the most luxurious accommodation we’d experienced in India. Built in 1876, the palace was in incredible condition. There were lots of animals on the property too: horses (for polo), emus, eight dogs, several peacocks / peahens, chickens, squirrels. We even saw a monkey. The castle was truly stunning, as was the dining area where we ate three beautiful meals, one of them served on gold platters with cloches (gold covers). We enjoyed a flavorful thali set with chickpea dumplings, green beans, semolina dessert and other usual suspects in what was one of my favourite dinners to date. For dessert: musk melon with sugar. The temperature was 44C — the hottest we experienced. The beds were also the most comfortable and we enjoyed a wonderful rest before waking up to the sound of peacocks.
Day 6 – Travel from Kanota –> Agra
Kanota castle was a beautiful place to wake up. Outside my room, I could hear a symphony of birds. Sounded like a jungle!
Before departing for Agra, we had a breakfast of fruit, deep fried pancakes, deep fried balls of some sort and soy chai. The five hour drive to Agra was fascinating. I was SO tired, but couldn’t look away for a second. There’s too much to look at out the window! Animals, people on the highway, roadside huts.
For lunch we had take-out meals from a roadside cafe. Our little boxes were wrapped with so much care — and they were delicious!! Pakoras, jeera potatoes, plain paratha (chapati with oil), special sauce, pickles and a banana. I’m noticing how much salt Indians use in their cooking. Most dishes we’ve had are quite salty, but as a salt lover, I was not complaining.
Our first activity in Agra was a visit to the spice market. Many people walking through the area were coughing because the spices were so strong (this is also a sign that they’re quality!). This was the least expensive area to buy spices as these vendors also supply wholesale customers. There were so many spices piled everywhere in silver bowls, it was overwhelming in a beautiful way!
For dinner, we got to enjoy yet another home-cooked meal. This one truly was one of my favourites. Kaliani demonstrated how to cook Mughlai cuisine, which is historically extremely rich. The dish of choice: deep fried potatoes and gravy. The traditional plate would’ve contained yogurt, but she subbed this out for pureed tomatoes (to make the dish vegan). She said the acidity of the tomatoes was the best replacement for the tangy yogurt. The dish also contained cashew cream. It was rich to say the least! AND SO DELICIOUS. But my favourite part of this meal was the cooked baby zucchini, which Kaliani said was creamy and delicious thanks to the fact that the zucchinis were purchased fresh from the market (and not at the grocery where they would be dried out). She cooked them with turmeric, oil, salt — that was it! For sure there was some other magic ingredient in the dish she didn’t reveal. It was mind-blowing.
Back at the hotel the plan was to get to bed as quickly as possible to prepare for our 3:45am wakeup…tomorrow we see the Taj Mahal at sunrise!!!
Day 7 – Travel from Agra –> Delhi
After a very short sleep, we woke in the middle of the night and met in the lobby to depart for the Taj Mahal at 4:10am. We were the first in line and were surprised to see joggers out! India is so hot, it’s really the only sane time to run. In the line up, Chetan poured us some soy chai as we waited excitedly to enter. Finally the clock struck five and we passed through security before setting our sights on the epic Taj. I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t know the story behind it until now. When Chetan shared its history, I cried. It’s really the most romantic thing, built by Shah Jahan for his wife and mother of their 13 children. As she was dying (during childbirth), he made her three promises. One of them was to build something in her honour so that she would never be forgotten. The Taj truly is incredible to see in person and absolutely riddled with significant, symbolic details. As we were admiring the structure, wild monkeys began to climb up from the river onto the Taj grounds and move in our direction. Apparently they can get quite aggressive so we moved in the opposite direction.
After we’d all gotten our minds blown by the Taj Mahal, we stopped for lunch at Sheroe’s Hangout before our five-hour bus ride back to Delhi. Sheroe’s is a very special place. It’s run by survivors of acid attacks, all female, many of them attacked by members of their own family. Before lunch we watched a short documentary about these incredible women. Needless to say, we were in tears. Mine weren’t out of pity, they stemmed from anger towards the attacks and their senseless actions. Fortunately, many of the attackers are now behind bars and these ladies are raising awareness about acid attacks. Sheroe’s is a place where they can connect and help each other with self development. Their food was delicious and everyone was met was lovely!! They exuded strength, warmth and happiness. This truly was a moving experience.
Back in Delhi, we went out for our last group meal to a casual restaurant called Om Sarvana Bhawan. It felt like the place to be. It was packed with locals. Everyone was eating with their hands…which is a real skill! Just like using chopsticks, there are techniques. The food here was delicious and we feasted on thali sets and dosas. It was fitting to end on such a high note…it left all of us wanting more.
Intrepid Travel has also launched vegan food adventures in Italy and Thailand! To celebrate the rise of vegan tourism and these new amazing tours, we’re hosting a celebratory event at next week at Juice Truck. Hope you can join! Get your tickets here.
When: Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 7pm to 9:30pm
Where: The Juice Truck, 28 W 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC
What: Come hang with Zach Berman (@juicetruck), Steph Yu (@happyandhealthy96) and I as we celebrate vegan tourism over plant-based Indian, Italian and Thai appies!
Price: $10 (which will be donated
Thanks to Intrepid Travel for sponsoring this post. All opinions are absolutely my own.