Saturday, January 14, 2023

Delhi, India, January 14, 2023

I didn’t get up until noon so missed breakfast and still felt tired. It’s always hard going to bed so late and then trying to function the next day. I talked with a travel agent in the hotel and he suggested that I get a car and driver for the last 10 days of my trip for a mere $1200. I think that’s too much and I have too much experience to not figure things out on my own. I know it would be convenient but I think I’m going to decline.

Once I got going, I went to the Red Fort via the metro.  It was a huge culture shock being out on the streets. There are a few scammers out there and do it’s hard to know whom to trust.  A man walked with me for a while saying he wanted to practice his English. I told him I was going to the metro and we ended up walking right past it to his shop so he could try to sell me tickets. I was angry at myself for believing him but it didn’t cost me more than a couple of minutes. Most of the shop owners are quiet and do not call out and hassle me and I really appreciate that.

Along the way-

Fuel for stoves.  No wonder it’s so smoky and smelly-

Water and sewer lines are being installed.  It didn’t stop anyone-

There are so many street stalls for food options.  These are light deep fried hollow balls that are crushed and covered in sauces-

I also had a fried potato patty crumbled and covered with spicy sauces-

People were friendly and helpful as I made my way on the metro.  I went to the Red Fort which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It was the main residence of the Mughal Emperors.  Shah Jahan commissioned the construction on May 12, 1638 when he moved the capital from Agra to Delhi.  It’s a combination of Mughal and Persianate Palace architecture with Indian traditions.  Of course it’s been plundered and destroyed by Nader Shah (1793) as well as the British (1857).  Since 1947 it has been a tourist attraction.

When I first got there I turned right instead of left (of course) but got a good look at the wall which is 2.4 km long-

The front- me with all my friends-

The walls and moat-

When I finally found the entrance, the lineup to buy tickets was very long so I did something that I hate. I walked up to the front to see how much it cost to get in and got talking with a local who let me buy my ticket in front of him. It’s a common thing to do in countries of big populations because it’s so frustrating to wait and wait and I know that that’s not right or fair but I did it without even batting an eye. Bad! Bad! Bad!

The entrance-

and the Lahori Gate-

Chhatta Chowk means covered bazaar and in the 17th century was a rare idea.  This is Mughal architecture with 32 arched bays on each side filled with shops-

The ceiling is nice-

Looking back at the red sandstone-

The Naubat Khana is the Drum House.  Musicians would announce the arrival of the Emperor and other important dignitaries.  Music was also played 5 times a day at chosen hours. It’s made of red sandstone.  A couple Mughal kings were assassinated here-

An inside door-

The ceiling-

Next is Diwan-I-Am which is where the public was received and their grievances were heard-

The emperor’s throne-

The Canal of Paradise provided a continuous water supply to the palace-

The Khas Mahal was the emperor’s private palace.  Fights between lions and elephants were held to entertain guests.    There are three parts to the palace: a worship area, a sleeping area and a sitting area-

There’s a large garden but the ponds are all dry-

 with identical pavilions at each end-

It was a nice place to spend time away from the crowds.  Walking back to the metro, it was a zoo.  So noisy with horns honking, loud motorbikes, people yelling and the smell…always the smell-

The metro system is funny. You can only buy one token at a time and you scan it when you enter and drop it in the box on your way out. Walking back into the metro I couldn’t believe the lineup -

I thought I would never get through yet after I bought my token, there were people entering the lineup close to the entrance so I tried too and as a woman I was directed to a different line where there were only about five women in front of me. Each time we go through the entrance we have to be scanned and our bags are put through an x-ray machine.

After getting off at my stop, there’s a monument for Swami Vivekananda.  He was an Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, author, religious teacher and the chief disciple of the Indian mystic Ramakrishna –

Right beside him is the Ramakrishna Mission which is a lovely area filled with gardens and a temple. What a relief from the noise of the city-

Walking home, it was even busier than this morning-

  No wonder there’s so much air pollution.  These men were trying to keep warm-

I had a chicken shawarma for supper-

and gulab jamun for dessert-

Back at the hotel, I called down for a heater because it was pretty chilly in my room. In no time a worker brought one up but he couldn’t get it to work. 20 minutes later he came back with a brand new one that he went out especially to buy. The staff will bend over backwards for you. I think about the Indians I met in the Gulf States. Only 10% of the people living in UAE are Emirati’s and 90% are immigrants doing the slave labor. That life would be so different for them: working in a five star hotel instead of being a tuktuk driver or trying to sell pashminas on the street.  They’re away from their families which would be horrible but at least they’re living conditions seem like they would be better.

After just day 1, I have great respect for Indians. It is so difficult here. It’s hard to get around, to walk on the streets, it’s dirty, it’s noisy. They must feel like they win the lottery when they get to come to Canada.  A saving grace though is how cheap it is.  A can of Coke costs 66 cents and my supper was $1.   

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.  I’m going to try and get a couple train trips booked and see a few sights. 

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