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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Delhi Day 2

Woke up early this morning and got a workout in at the hotel gym which helped me feel better about sitting on the bus all day.  Had my first experience with the sexism for which Indian men are known with the man who just stepped right in front of me at the weight machine I was clearly using. At least I got a chuckle out of the fact that he had to take some of the weight off to use it!  When I walked to the mall last night to buy some water, I also got some uncomfortable glares from some of the men there. While I don't love traveling with 40 people, there is safety in numbers which I am grateful for! The group itself is largely women - only about 5 men. There are a couple of other folks around my age, and then the oldest is probably a guy in his 70s. My roommate is a Haitian-born woman from Boston in her 30s. She's very nice and super quiet. 

We left the hotel at 8:30. Delhi traffic is crazy, and it took us about 90 minutes to get to old Delhi. This was the driver's view for most of the way. 

Lots to see out of the windows including 10 people crammed into an SUV and several instances of 6 in a regular small car. We also passed several of the holy cows munching on garbage along the road side. Other animal spotting included monkeys, mongoose, pigs and goats. 

Stop #1 was a Muslim temple in old Delhi where we also learned a little more about the history between Muslims and Hindus.  We had to remove our shoes for the visit, and all the women had to wear these charming coverups. 

The mosque tour was followed by a rickshaw ride through the goat paths that make up the old part of town. An electrician's nightmare but definitely cool to see. This part of Delhi reminds me a lot of Hanoi. I would have liked to have gotten out and walked around, but the rickshaw was a good way to cover a lot of ground (and avoid getting run over by crazy drivers on mopeds). 

Next stop was my least favorite part of traveling with a big group. We went to one of those "artists collectives" which prey on buses of tourists and make their money selling several thousand dollar hand knotted rugs from Kashmir, pashminas made from the chin hair of the goat, etc. They provided a free lunch of a fried chickpea pastry, cheese sandwich, banana and a Coca Cola and more than made their money back since several folks other than cheap ole me bought stuff.  

Next stop was Humayuns tomb, a UNESCO world heritage site. He was the second of the Mogul emperors from Afghanistan who ruled India in the 1500s, and the temple supposedly is what the Taj Mahal was based upon. 

We followed that up with a trip to a Sikh temple. Sikhs are the men with the turbans, and they require everyone to cover their head in the temple complex.  I found another good use for the CSS bandanna! 

The good news is the air quality is much better today. Still a haze, but it hasn't been as hard to be outside.  This city itself is definitely not one of my favorites - smog plus a general 3rd world state of disrepair, but I really enjoy looking at the people.  There is something really lovely about the women in their brightly colored tunics, and I also really enjoy seeing the wizened faces of the older people.  They are just so at peace. It is an interesting culture for sure! 

Traffic on the other hand sucks, and we had a two hour bus ride back to the hotel. Tonight we have to pack our bags early and give them to the bus driver since we are leaving at 4:30am tomorrow for a 6 hour train ride to Pushkar where we are going to the camel festival. We are staying in tents, and I'm not sure that they will have internet access there. Will send another update when I can! 


Sent from my iPhone

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