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rglongpre’s Travel Diary

Monday, 14 Jan 2008

Location: New Delhi and Old Delhi, India

MapWe woke up just as dawn was breaking and were able to get a good look outside of our window at the area around the hotel. On the side of the hotel parking lot which was more like an abandoned old building site, was a low long and wide hill of rubbish. We saw two small fires burning with people huddled with frayed blankets around them. We watched as young boys came dragging large bags partially filled with stuff to the rubbish pile. The adults on the rubbish hill sorted through the bags putting the contents into other large bags, obviously sorting for recycling purposes. The work day for these children and their parents had started early. Their clothing and their faces were as far from clean as one could imagine.

After eating a small breakfast, I went out for photos while Maureen prepared for a day of touring. I have to admit to feeling a bit uneasy about wandering around this ghetto-like area with my big camera and looking every bit like a rich foreigner. However, the feeling quickly passed as it was obvious that these people were just interested in their own stories and lives while I prowled around the edges recording what I saw. Amid the chaos were computer shops, two cyber cafes, a McDonalds, a Dominos Pizza, clothing shops, three banking ATM outlets, and a host of other small businesses including a sidewalk barber with his stool and a mirror tacked to a post at the side of the road.

Our tour guide came to get us so that we could begin our day's tours. Once on the road, we found out that we weren't going to see many things at all as it was Monday, a day most tour sites are closed. As a result, we never did get to see the Bahai Temple, the Red Fort or Humayun's Tomb. We did get time to see the Qutab Minar, and the Jama Masjid, the largest Muslim mosque in India.

Outside of the mosque, the Jama Masjid, we booked a ride in a rickshaw so that we could get a quick tour of Old Delhi, too quick to really get a sense of the place. Still, it was an experience. We then drove to the government area with the idea of seeing the India Gate as well as a few important government buildings. We couldn't get very close to the India Gate, India's version of the 'Arc de Triomphe' and the haze made for poor distance photos.

The Raj Ghat was an oasis of peace after all the noise of Old Delhi. The area is a grass and shrub park with a very small memorial to Mahatma Gandhi built at the site of his cremation. The memorial is very simple and honours the simplicity of his lifestyle and his leadership for India's independence from Britain. On our way back to the hotel, I got a photo of a statue of Gandhi making the day complete. Also on the way back, I saw the swastika marking the entrance of a few homes and remembered that Hinduism used this symbol long before it was adopted by Hitler and the Nazis in Germany just prior to World War II.

Back at the hotel, I took Maureen for a walk around the hotel so that she could see what I saw in the morning. We thought we would go out for supper and so looked for a likely eating place. The offerings didn't appear to be very sanitary so we soon that idea. We did find a book called 'Holy Cow' to buy. The book was written by an Australian woman about her time in India and her impressions. It should be an interesting read, something that we can compare our experiences with as we experience this country. We had supper in the hotel's restaurant before heading to our room for relaxation, journal writing and some cards. Before long the music again started. Tonight there were two "ring" parties - engagement parties - being celebrated. Oh well, the music was free.