After checking out and getting a free cab to the airport as compensation (worth between 250Rs and 400Rs) for the lack of hot water and wifi we got to the airport. The lovely procedure of printing out your (Swedish) e-mail (which you can show on iPad/iPhone) in order to get into the airport makes me wonder why India even bother with e-tickets. We also realized that our plane was scheduled 30 minutes earlier than original plan.
The security personnel weren’t faster at Delhi International airport than anywhere else and when we got through security we should already be boarding. We asked for a drive to our gate (one ought to do this every time) and got to the gate as last passengers during Final call (however we didn’t have our names called out). Now we’re just crossing our fingers that the luggage will make it all the way as well…
After five minutes with the water I deemed the hot water to be out so no steaming shower for me in the morning, the Internet was still not working as well – apparently the Hotels Internet Provider had issues. Slightly grumpy we headed to Humayan’s Tomb with the Metro.
This is apparently same same as Taj Mahal, but in red marble rather than white (?) – it had a nice garden where the locals played cricket or had picnics. The entry fee was only 10Rs, for Indians and whopping 250Rs for foreigners. Sometimes you have to be pragmatic though so we paid and entered. It was impressive but in bad shape, it was only rather recent it was pronounced a Unesco world heritage and before that little preservation seemed to have taken place. As an example they had in the 1950’s put grey standard concrete over the old original stone floor to “even it out” – if you listen carefully you can almost here the cries of a thousand archeologists. The concrete was now removed and work underway to restore or replace things in general, such as the intricate doors which had been used for firewood.
We had lunch at Connaught Place, a chinese/thai place which was really good – close to block A if anyone ever wants to go there 😉 We learned during the day that in the local vocabulary “a mall” as well as “shopping centre” refers to big store with handicrafts. I lost count of the number of Pashmina shawls that Mona looked at as well as the number of times I’ve said “no thank you” but fair enough. Walking home along Main Bazaar street we found a spice-selling guy who held a surprisingly fast and good lecture about his spices and recommended us to check out his homepage, thespicemaker.com.
Rather tired we spent the evening at the hotel flicking through the 100 channels of Bollywood, Indian commercials and Cricket news while munching on Indian snacks. I’m looking forward to cheeze balls as well as proper Swedish candy.
The beds were really nice to sleep in but we wanted to enjoy the complimentary breakfast buffet so went up around 09. Surprisingly, no unpleasant surprises about the room yet 🙂 Did I say steaming hot showers? Nom-nom.
The agenda for the day was to check out Red Fort and Jama Masjid (their biggest mosque) and explore the bazaars a bit – perhaps some shopping. The streets had a completely different look in the morning and rather than unsafe I’d now describe them as buzzing with chaotic life. Which is a fair description of Delhi as a whole.
The highlight of the day were strolling around the mazes of the bazaars – or not actually bazaars but long winding alleys where people sometimes lived but always had stalls or shops. We found some exquisite doors and a friendly Riksha driver explained that this was the jewellers district and these were doors of the rich jewellers and gave some stories from how they were nine brothers etc. Interesting and lots of photo opportunities.
The Mosque was somewhat of a disappointment, first it was not as grand as the one in Damascus by a long shot and more important they levied fees of 200Rs for “cameras – including mobile cameras” as well as for entering a tower the old 20Rs for Indians, 100Rs for foreigners. I’m happy with tipping, or paying a little extra as a rich tourist – but I’m not paying five times the price. The Red Fort was closed for security reasons (Republic Day something?) but was sure impressive just walking around.
We saw a sign for Tibetan refugees / market place which seemed to be a strange combination and checked it out. It was an accurate description though and I thought this was a good place to donate a pair of pants I no longer used to a family. Despite all the hardships these people must suffer every day they still had smiles on their faces, were polite and tried to keep up their barbers, food stalls, shoe polishing etc and no signs of violence or thefts.
After a long day of walking we concluded with some shopping at Connaught Place for Mona and then took the Metro (convenient but crazy full of people) back to our nice hotel. After 15 minutes or so we heard ridiculously loud Hindi Techno music and saw that someone had used the quiet alley outside our window as a party-location with tents and stuff. According to the reception it was a wedding party, yay. I managed to take a nap despite the noise (old army-skills) before we headed out for a quick dinner.
We had so see the wedding, which turned out to be a party for kids (?) and were invited for dancing and eating. We checked the place out passed the opportunity and ate at Diamond Cafe on Bazaar street. When returning the music still played but stopped around 23 so it was no real trouble falling asleep anyways.