I left you all at Mumbai Airport early hours of the morning of 6 September 2013. A few chaotic hours later I I was on Delhi International (which was alot fancier than Mumbai International) which is where my friend Gabs was waiting.
That was at about 4 am. A driver from her company gave us a lift to her apartment in Gurgaon. The drive there was uneventful, quiet, and Delhi looked almost ‘normal’ and even neat, at that time of the day. I remarked on this, and Gabs told, me just to wait until later to see the real deal. The elevator in the apartment building (much like everywhere else in India) had so much operating instructions! See what I mean:
Sleeping a few hours, till around 11, she called her trusted auto-rickshaw driver, Santosh to take us to the mall where she did her last workout with a very delectable personal trainer. The gym was closing that very day to move to another location. I was a bit disorientated, but that first ride in Delhi in the traffic was quite scary.
Looking at it now, it looks rather mild compared to everything else:
India is a very very bumpy ride! Also in this clip I hadn’t realized it before but I managed to catch the moment Gaby asked Santosh to come with us on our roadtrip. So precious 🙂
Here’s some pics of the mall and some strange articles I read in some magazines, and some other interesting Delhi scenes. Draw your own conclusions:
It was a whirlwind weekend of site-seeing, meeting a few of Gaby’s friends, practice riding in the crazy traffic to prepare me for the roads of India. I must say, I wasn’t sure I would manage with all my bones in one piece, and I really did not want to damage her bike by causing an accident. We had about 3 practise rides out on the road that weekend. By ride number 3, although still slow, I think I was settled into the chaos!
Ride number one, nearly caused me a heart attack. Its like EVERYTHING is out to get you, and your need to check your mirrors and blindspots interfere with being safe. Everybody just GOES! No stopping, no checking, and they are damn good on the brakes! So in a nutshell after the initial shock, I finally settled in a bit, still driving slow enough to frustrate Gabs ALOT, but I managed to keep it together thankfully.
That weekend, it just felt like we did so much. She took me on the train to see the Qutub Minar, The Red Fort, Chandi Chouk market (where I spent far too much money!), the spice market in Khari Baoli street in Old Delhi where we took several rickshaw rides and bought some walnuts which we ate and fed to the little mini squirrels at the Red Fort.
Here’s a map of the metro to see where all these things are. Basically we got on the yellow line at Huda City Center and went up, got off at some spots (its all a blur now), and at some point took a tuk-tuk/auto-rickshaw to the spice market, and then after Qutab Minar I think we took an auto-rickshaw/tuk-tuk back to the metro where we took the yellow line back to Huda City Center, which is near where Gaby lives. Delhi is very green! Gaby says it won an award because of this at some point. Here’s a clip of our metro ride:
There is not much information at the historical sights at. The information boards have very little information and even artefacts in museums are not well catalogued and categorized. Its sad, but this is India, and sometimes one can appreciate history without knowing everything actually.
Khari Baoli is a street in Old Delhi famous for its wholesale groceries and is Asia’s largest wholesale spice market selling all kinds of spices, nuts, herbs and other food products. Operating since the 17th century, the market is situated near the historic Delhi Red Fort on the Khari Baoli Road adjacent to Fatehpuri Masjid (mosque) at the western end of the Chandni Chowk. Over the years it has remained a tourist attraction.
Here’s a couple of clips of our rickshaw rides through Old Delhi
Qutab/Qutb/Qutub Minar is the tallest ‘minar’ (tower) in India. It was originally an Islamic monument erected for . Gaby says it is widely believed that the Eiffel Tower was inspired by Qutab Minar’s design. The traditional use of a minar is to call muslims to prayer. In order to do so, a man would stand at the top of the tower and recite the melodious ‘athaan’ at muslim prayer times. Qutab Minar also has monumental significance as a ‘victory monument’ celebrating the victory of Mohammed Ghori over Rajput king Prithviraj in 1192 AD. The surrounding archaeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, the masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art (built in 1311), and two mosques, including the Quwwatu’l-Islam, the oldest in northern India.
Chandni Chowk is a major shopping area of Delhi. It is very old. The origin of Chandni Chowk dates back to the Mughal era in Indian history. According to legend, Chandni Chowk market was established during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan. The legend also says that Chandni Chowk market was designed by Jahanara-Emperor Shahjahan’s favorite daughter. A large ‘chowk’ or square with a centrally located pool was incorporated in the initial design.
Here’s a little clip of the dance:
I bought a puppet couple from these guys. They were such good sports to do this for me when I asked them to show me how the puppets can dance:
Then of course there is the Red Fort which we also visited. Mughal ruler Shah Jahan ordered the construction of the Red Fort in 1639 when he transited his capital from Agra to Old Delhi (known at the time as Shahjahanabad). The construction took nearly a decade to complete. Red sandstone was used in the constrction, hence the name. The perimeter of the fort spance nearly two and half kilometers with tallest structure reaching a height of 33 meters.
Here is a religious parade I think for the festival of Ganesh just outside the red fort:
We even went to Salsa at Bahi the Sunday night and Gaby got quite happy on Tequilas, needing quite alot of support to get home haha. But she is one tough cookie, As true as goodness, she was waking me up at 5am to say Santosh was on his way. About a month before I came Gaby had told me it would be wise to have a mechanic with us on the trip. And during the course of the weekend, the guy that someone recommended for this turned out to be intent on scamming us out of too much money, and she decided that to have Santosh with would be perfect, so she asked him, he agreed (very last minute!) and so we rented him a bike from one of her contacts, another Royal Enfield bullet, and that was that!
The bike rental for Santosh worked out to about R600 each for me and Gaby for the for the whole week! What a deal. Having Santosh with us really made it a whole new level of fun! I really got to like him alot, and I saw why she trusted him. Halfway through the week, Santosh started confessing some intense feelings for me and I must admit, I was flattered and a bit feverish too. But for the sake of keeping it real, nothing (much) happened.