Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Delhi - Sightseeing with Roger and Jane

We started out the day feeling very tired and overwhelmed from our arrival last night. You know, overwhelmed in a, "What were we thinking?" kind of way. This is not like Mexico! At all. It is much more intimidating. After considerable discussion about the wisdom of having come to India and staying in India, we got up the courage to venture downstairs to the lobby. There we met another couple from the US. They were very friendly and happy to see us, being the first Americans they've run into during the week they've been in India. Needless to say, we were very happy to see them too. Anyway, they had similar stuff on their agenda to what we had on ours, already had a driver, and invited us to come with them for the day. It was very nice, though ended up being a much busier day than even we are used to from previous trip, and more expensive. We visited lots of sites, each very briefly.

We really enjoyed hearing their story. Roger and Jane went on a 3-month trip all around Europe right after they graduated from college, as they had 3 months to kill before starting work as teachers. They were on a real shoestring budget since they'd been paying their own way through college: said they spent $5/day on food, $5/day on lodging, and $5/day on fuel for the motorcycle they purchased when they got there and sold before returning home. And they lived out of a single backpack smaller than ours. When she did laundry, he had to stay in the hotel room… naked. They said that since then they've been talking about traveling more during their retirement, but now that they actually are retired, they are starting to have lots of grandkids and are still finding it difficult to be away for extended periods of time. The trip at present is a week doing tourist stuff (last day of that today), followed by 4 weeks working at Mother Theresa's mission in Calcutta, before returning home for the birth of their next grandchild. They did a similar trip in Africa recently. It was really fun for us and I think for them to run across someone with such a similar experience. And of course they totally got how overwhelmed we were feeling--they said that at first with their trip in Europe they only stuck it out because they couldn't afford to return any earlier than their pre-purchased return flight. But that it was worthwhile in the end. We were heartened and re-inspired by their story. They were exactly the encouragement we needed. I haven't had time to read it yet, but I look forward to looking over their blog about their trip and the mission work.

Anyway, on to the sights we saw...

The day started out with a quick bicycle-rickshaw ride to where Roger and Jane's driver Noor had parked the car. Saw a little monkey walking along the power line, as we often see squirrels do in the states, and an ox-drawn cart. It made me think of "The Good Earth." As Jane said, “In Delhi, you don’t need to go to the zoo, the zoo comes to you!”

The first stop of the day was Jama Masjid, one of the biggest mosques in the world. We went up one of the minarets for a commanding view of Delhi. All the women had to wear this strange robe-thing, but oddly they didn't make us cover our heads.

The Jama Masjid From Trip of a Lifetime

The next stop was the Red Fort, which is actually a fancy white marble palace, within a red sandstone fortification. Jane said it was nothing compared to the Taj Mahal, and we didn't stay long. But our guide told us some interesting tidbits about how they diverted water from the nearby river to run through channels in the walkways to keep the stone of the walkways cool.

The Red Fort From Trip of a Lifetime

The next stop was the National Museum for lunch and exhibits. The lunch buffet was good, but left us on the top floor of the museum where the exhibits were quite lackluster. Thinking this was all there was, we spent quite a bit of time trying to make the best of them before wandering downstairs and finding the main exhibit that showcased early Indian civilization and Indian art through time. They were fantastic exhibits and I wish we'd had more time for them. We especially liked the miniature paintings.

Humayum's Tomb followed, which was a beautiful structure and we got to see some of the cooling water channels in action.

Humayum's Tomb From Trip of a Lifetime

Final we had a quick stop at the Lodi Gardens, which was a nice little pocket of quiet in the big city.

Lodi Gardens From Trip of a Lifetime

After all the entry fees, tips that were too big to photo-takers and guides (shortage of small bills), lack of understanding what bathrooms and shoe minders should cost, and a $30 tip to our driver, it was a very over-budget day. But it was good to see that we had the option of being chaperoned around in a way that felt very safe, if we were willing to spend the money (which would have necessitated shortening our trip length by around half to two-thirds). Roger and Jane were paying him around $100/day for transportation and accommodations.

1 comment:

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