The trip is virtually over, the song is near sung, yet there was one more place to visit before heading off out for the final meal, and thus I found myself outside the Masonic Hall in Delhi, meeting a man considerably more senior that me for a guided tour, If ever you needed an example of where Masonry works so well, then what happened would be ideal. There I am, a third of the way round the world, I could be in the city alone on business (o.k. I’m staying with friends, just let that slide) and this gentleman, who just happens to be the most senior member in North India, is showing me around the building and treating me as if we’d known each other for years and were good friends. On top of this he mentioned meetings that he was sure I could attend if I were still to be around. And that sums much of masonry up, you can be virtually anywhere around the world, but not have to worry about being alone. Continue reading
Well today was that time on a holiday when most people are hit by panic. A day to go and souvenirs to buy. While not having many to get, I still always find tracing suitable ones to be an issue. Fortunately there were two things in my favor. First, I’d already seen Dilli Haat and knew the potential it offered (and that many of the stalls would be different), and secondly Simon and Ruth (with whom I’m staying) are experts at ferreting out local craft shops, and so first stop of the day was back to Khan Market for one of these gems followed by a cash point.
With some success and having hit an ATM for what I expected to be enough for the rest of the holiday I then hit Dilli Haat. It was around 11:30 and some of the stalls were still setting up, but I managed to have a decent look around and get all bases covered, except I also found myself having to barter harder than expected as I had come to realise I had withdrawn too little cash and I was at risk not being able to afford lunch (which was going to be only around the 100 rupee mark anyway).
Still my duty has now been done, I’ll hopefully get to have a node around the Masonic hall in about an hour and then we’re out for the evening, till then rest time.
There are several things to bare in mind when thinking about using a cycle rickshaw. First they are not fast, and even getting started can very much depend upon the size and fitness of your rider. Sure the younger kids tend to be cheeky and more enthusiastic, but at least make sure they can reach the pedals. Secondly there’s not much protection in them, so in slow moving traffic (such as Old Delhi) they are fine, I’d not like to be on one any where were cars can move freely. Third there are issues with suspension, or more accurately there is none. Net result is you can be thrown forwards when it hits even the smallest rut in the road, so sit back and use your legs as braces on the foot rest. And finally have a sense of humour and do not be in a hurry …
Simple plan for the day. Go to the Red Fort in Old Delhi, head to the famous Karim’s for lunch, then head over to the Spice Market, maybe via Chandi Chowk . After all what could be more relaxing than exploring one of the world’s largest surviving forts/castles, travel through back street crowds to find a back street restaurant for which only have vague directions, then head along one of the most crowded shopping areas on the continent, but where it’s all out door. Continue reading
In the west we’re used to postcards, in fact much of the world seems to be except Japan and … India. I’d forgotten how hard it was to get them when I was in Chennai and now in Delhi I’ve the same problem. Net result is I guess my familly and friends will just have to read here rather than receive badly scrawled pieces of cardboard.
Tripadvisor can be useful for restaurants, especially this time round at lunch as I don’t have to think about evening ones. The only catch has been that up to now the map function had not been set for Delhi, net result I can restaurants online, but have no clue where they are in real life. This morning this all changed and now I head out to Old Delhi with several badly drawn reference maps to guide me.
I know a few people reading this will be surprised that I’m not eating out every night. The reason is simple, I’m staying with friends and it’s never going to be practical for them, on top of which is the fact they have a young kid and are not going to be able to get a baby sitter every night. So the count so far has been two take-outs (including one from Moti Mahal, who created Butter Chicken – from where we get Chicken Tikka Massalla) and one home cook. Continue reading
This morning’s venture was to the Qutab Complex, the second of Delhi’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, and home to the tallest minaret (if that’s what it is) in the world, plus an iron pole that’s over 1500 years old yet won’t rust nor corrode. From the outside you can see the top of the Qutab Minar, but it’s only once you go inside and see it’s base hat you realise just how truly impressive it is. It quite literally looms over the mosque/tomb/madras complex, like a space rocket ready for take off to another planet. It’s not the only impressive thing here either, though nothing else matches it for it’s scale. Much of the place is in ruins, it is a 13th century site after all that has not been used in a long time, but some of the buildings still contain their engravings and it’s all mighty impressive. As well as the Minar (where I saw someone sitting on the third balcony – must have been staff as there’s a locked gate to the internal stairs) there’s also the famous iron bar. This dates from the 4th century (so roughly 9 hundred years older than this site) and was moved here post some conquest. The key thing about it is that it just won’t rust and no one know why, or even how it was made. Continue reading
Today did not quite go as planned, but for all the right reasons. I had always planned to visit Humayun’s Tomb and Safdarjung’s Tomb in the morning, do lunch at Khan Market, then hit the National Museum in the afternoon. The latter being an after thought to fill the day as the first two sites were only expected to take me an 60-90 minutes and 30-60 minutes respectively. Continue reading
I may have been a bit brief yesterday on my first write-ups.
Dilli Haat feels a bit like an old compound that’s been converted, however it was purposely built and is relatively new. The old feel is probably just a side effect of trying to market stalls feel traditional. The main thing for me that stands out though was the colours. If you look at my photos you’ll see lots of bright reds, purples, oranges, greens and blues, lots of contrast.
A bit on the weather. It’s dry here, though I believe it was raining last week. Temperature wise it’s a bit like an early English spring during the day time, except dryer. The suhn is bright, though not that strong, partly due to having to pass through a light polution resultant haze. In the evenings, however, it’s presently colder than in the UK – not freezing, but only about 5 or 6 degrees.
A slow lazy Sunday morning was followed by a trip to Dilli Haat which is a dedicated out door Indian crafts centre with an ever changing set of themes (so if you go every 2 to 3 weeks you will see many different stalls). I was looking for souvenirs and may well go back there later in the trip for the same, however I bought nothing (unlike Simon and Ruth, the friends I’m staying with). Having said that is was a great place and I was only partly stopped by the items I liked being far too large to even think about bring (or sending back). One of the things about the market is that they have a food area, where each stall is from a different region. We ate at the Nagaland food stall where we had momo (which I hitherto thought only came from Nepal).
Post the market we had a quick zip around Khan Market for some fresh chicken, This place supposedly has the most expensive retail rent prices for area in the country. Looking at it, it’s tip.
I’ve now uploaded first batch of photos on to my Webshots account and need to start planning properly for my coming days.