02.01.2011 - 03.01.2011 17 °C
2 Jan 2011 - A Day in Delhi
We arrived at the hotel we had booked, which was down a back alleyway in a leaky bazaar, decided that was unlivable, and bolted to a much nicer one that had both heating and hot water. Amazing.
After a rather epic scrubbing-off of travel grot, we headed out into Delhi, one of the saner places we've visited in India. In New Delhi, the streets are so wide that traffic jams are not assumed, and there are more trees than beggars. New Delhi is the Englishman's ideals drawn out on Indian soil. There's a golf course, huge gardens, forest, polo field, yeah you get the picture. We went to the National Museum first, which definitely held up to my expectations. Starting from Merhgargh culture around 7,000 years ago, (with our friend the English audioguide showing the way) we walked through 9,000 years of the Indian subcontinent's history: little stone figurines and tools, through to the intricate miniature Buddhist paintings of only a century or so ago. There were rooms full of the beautiful bronze statues created by the 'lost wax' method, where the figurine's disposable 'blueprint' was made in wax, the clay mold pressed onto it, the wax melted away and liquid bronze finally poured into the void. They were amazingly detailed.
I quite enjoyed the traditional textiles section, while Michael was keen to visit the armoury, the best one we've seen yet, I reckon: rather than just oodles of punch-daggers, they had alll kinds of intriguing things, like pony face shields, bommy-knockers and tiny tiny canons that I think would have been fairly useless in an emergency situation.
After that, we went to the Lodi Gardens, which, after my last few experiences of 'garden' in India, I had fairly low hopes for, but no; it was amazing. The entrance was gorgeous; a big avenue flanked by huge trees, leading up to a mausoleum, architecturally similar to the Taj, only made from redstone. It was dusk. We found the herb garden, the bamboo forest, and then found all of the butterflies on the big sign, on the big sign. Where do butterflies go in winter in Delhi? Goa?
See Wikipedia entry for Lodhi Gardens
We found some fairly out-of-place gumtrees, a scrub-patch, and then another lovely big walled mausoleum temple thing, which Michael walked into (pitch black) and shouted 'cucoo!!'. I was far too spooked out. He then proceeded to climb onto the huge wall surrounding it, ran along, realised he was stuck and some Indian blokes enthusiastically showed him how to get down... now. Freezing, we wandered home, and for the first time ever, couldn't find an autorickshaw! We tried to wave them down and they just rolled on by! Autorickshaw drivers of India: you need to balance out ignoring customers with chasing customers.
Back into our cosy hotel to skype mum and dad, and we hit the sack. And our bed wasn't leaping about over the speed bumps and screeching around corners.
3 Jan 2011 Delhi
Michael had an orientation course for university (Oh, right, we're actually students, I remember now) til about 3pm, and I had Delhi belly, so I just chilled out in the hotel. Exciting, huh.
When the boy got back, we caught an autorickshaw to the Red Fort. Halfway there, our driver performed the most over-acted melodramatic lie I ever did see, slapping his leg and shouting 'Oh, no, the Red Fort is closed on Mondays!'. As if he didn't know that when he drove off. His solution; drive us to another sight about 10km away, thus earning himself some sweet sweet moneys... We said no. Take us to the fort anyway.
With oodles of bazaars beside the fort, and Michael being stupid enough to come to India without a jumper, we decided to go jumper hunting. First, we landed in the electrics section, with everything from torches to cables to batteries to I don't know. Through the part that sold only clocks and fake flowers, we stopped to read LP. A bloke on a bike-autorickshaw with a red and black beanie rolled up, and tried to get us on his bike. I told him to get nicked.
We found the jumper section, but the problem is, Michael is not the size of your average Indian. In fact, he is about twice as tall and wide. We tried all kinds of things (everything except the mustard-coloured grandpa jumper which would have been perfect), even vests, but they were all about as loose as corsets. The shopkeepers were actually laughing, and stopped trying to help us.
That night, we had a last supper with Sammy and Tom, who was a little bit under the weather. He stuck to orange juice while Sammy and Mick drank beers. I eavesdropped on the beautifully spoken Japanese couple next to us. Japan, I miss you. After a chilly farewell on an empty bazaar street, we headed home once more, for our last night together in 2 months. (Insert sad violins)