Where I've Been

Thursday, July 01, 2010

India part 10 - Delhi Belhi
Or Delhi belly. Drop your eyebrows. Yes, this is the theme on which the blog is resurrected on the third year (inclusive).

Much has transpired.

But what transpired on those streets of Delhi so long ago?

Ah Delhi! More than a misspelled sandwich shop. It’s a fairly cool place, when you’re well. Join us as we discover how I wasn’t.

If you’ve been anxiously following our travel adventures you’ll note that the misadventures were mainly manifested in the transit. Unlike the eternity of hell that awaits unfortunate westerners with ovens, pits of flames, lakes of fire, Glenn Beck, whips, chains, and pots of burning oil--hell in India has an end, after which you’re reborn in accordance with your karma. Our karmic rebirth after the sin atonement of 25 hours of Indian trains and busses was attended by the arrival of the Shatabdi Express. Like Garuda from the heavens, or Falcor from The Neverending Story, it lifted us from the Agra station and, after a meal, soothing background music, a nap, and 3 hours we were pushed out into the heart of Delhi. I recommend, go ride it.

We stayed in one of the nicer places in our Indian exploration: Connaught place, directly in the heart of the action. We enjoyed an innocuous buffet breakfast at our guesthouse and set out for our final day in India before Steve returned home and the Brians headed to Nepal. This is that slow opening scene to the horror movie, the one where it’s sunny, where the girl with the pastel sweater--later to be possessed--is still kissing her boyfriend before school. Well the boyfriend I kissed was that breakfast, and the demon entered. How I, with the vacation germ wariness of Howard Hughes, kissed that boyfriend’s banana pancake face that morning still fills my body with the thrill of nausea as I write.

We started with the Red Fort, the capital of the Mughal empire under Shah Jahan in the 1600s. The red in the fort matched the color slowly fading from my face as those bananas worked their evil. After having seen Jaipur and especially Agra, the Red Fort was a bit of a letdown. A week before we would have been impressed, now we droned on: “oh Shahjahani style, how very original, Shah Jahan”, and other jaded jibes of the road-weary.

Besides, as you can see, the Red Fort is in a significantly less impressive state of repair than the Taj Mahal with inlaid jewels missing, dirty marble, rusty metal screens, and officers instructing us not to take pictures.

After the fort, we visited Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, a Jain temple which had the distinction of having a photo display on a certain group of Jains whose devotion to their beliefs matched their distaste for fashion, rendering them completely and utterly nude at all times. So, several dozen old, naked Indians adorned the walls. I was already feeling quite a bit funny in the stomach at that point, so I left. There are no pictures of this, thank me in the comments section.

We then visited Jama Masjid mosque where we were told we could not take pictures or cameras inside, but they could happily hold our cameras for a camera holding fee, which we unhappily paid.

After the mosque, we spilled out into Chandni Chowk, a huge marketplace of everything that has ever been available to buy, ever, gagged and stuffed into about 20 blocks.

We ventured through the streets of the chowk where we marveled at the stalactite-like growth of wires suspended over the roads.
Here are Brian and Steve marveling.

After more meandering we headed down to the National Museum of India. It was quite a museum, especially the bathroom, which I visited several times.
We then strolled along the Rajpath or King’s Way which links Rashtrapati Bhavan (the presidential palace) through India Gate to the National Stadium. It’s essentially like the Mall in Washington DC, or the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Here is the outside of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, after a long walk from the Gate of India.

Though the walk looks relatively short, the demon (growing Poltergeist-like in my stomach) eventually ground me to a halt. Taxi time, now.
And so ended my adventure in Delhi, the rest of it was seen rushing by me as I sprinted to my room and hugged the toilet for the next 6 hours.
At 3 in the morning we all arose, I vomited one last time and we headed to the airport where we found our flight delayed by 4 hours. Luckily, molded plastic seats make marvelous sickbeds for the food-poisoned and I passed merrily in and out of a sweaty, shivery, sleep until our flight to Kathmandu.
When will you hear about Kathmandu? Look for it near the end of the Mayan calendar (the end is near).