Delhi page 2 of 3
On this page you can see pictures of the 'Diwan-i-Am', the hall of Public Audiences, where the emperor listened to the problems of his citizens and the 'Diwan-i-Khas', the hall for private meetings. The interiors are beautifully decorated with inlaid marble, and the big curved rooms are very impressive - even now they are empty. There are a lot of tourists, but many of them are Indian and add to the dark oriental atmosphere rather than diminishing it. Through intriguing carved openings you can watch the outside world. An enormous contrast exists between the noisy, very busy market outside and the quiet, impressive inside.
Back in the bazaar near the entrance we take a soft drink. It is incredibly, oppressively hot, somewhere close to 40°C. We didn't expect this somehow, or rather I didn't expect to be so much troubled by it. Probably it is the high relative humidity, in combination with so many people all so close together.
We are sitting on small stools next to the stand were we bought our drink and watch the people go by, almost all Indian with the exemption of some bewildered looking European and American tourists. They look exactly as we feel ourselves... I am watching the women, almost all clothed in very warm looking sarongs, beautiful colored silk like material folded in a special way around the body. The women don't seem to bother much about the temperature, but I pitied them anyway. Much later during our holiday I found out that sarongs aren't really that uncomfortable and give a lot of protection from the burning sun, but still I'm convinced you can't move freely in them!
We look, but the Indians positively gape or however you want to name this prolonged staring they are expert in. We are endlessly interesting to them. And I think they pity us too, Jac is in fact dripping sweat on to the ground and I have known better moments myself!
But we are not easily defeated (which is as well in India) and start our small walk to the Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque of India. On the map the distance from the Red Fort to the Jama Masjid looks like an easy stroll. But on the map you can't see the amount of human beings that fill this distance! As soon as we 're out in the open we are jumped upon again. After we freed ourselves of lots of vendors and even more riksja drivers, a very friendly smiling riksja driver that looks kind of familiar encounters us. A moment later we realize it is our riksja driver who needn't wait for us but did so anyway. We explain that we want to walk. That doesn't matter at all he tells us even more friendly, he will be available any moment we change our mind. And indeed he follows us and stops every 20 meters in front of us, opens the door of his riksja and makes a small bow. Even after repeating this at least three times he is still smiling invitingly. We start to feel very very guilty and escape towards a pedestrian-only way leading through a nearby park, at the end of which the Jama Masjid is clearly visible.
When we arrive next to the stairs leading to the gateway of the Jama Masjid we find that tourists need to take a different entrance, located at the other side of the Jama Masjid. We have to walk a lot more to reach that entrance, but the walk takes us through the very interesting Meena Bazaar and is less bothersome than before for unknown reasons. Small streets, colors everywhere, animals, people, you can buy species, fruits, tapestries, tricycles for children (of all things!) and so on. The light in India is very intense, it has a kind of saturated yellow quality that is totally different from the cool, blue light we are used to in Holland. The light blends together with a mixture of scents, rich and sweet but mingled with traces (and sometimes more than traces!) of urine and shit. Both animal and man prefer the street above public urinals, you understand why when you (try to) visit one... So far for my poetic description!
The Jama Masjid is the biggest mosque of India and is built by Shah Jahan, just like the Red Fort. Again a very impressive and very oriental building, with beautiful curved roofs topped with small but very high minarets. We had to remove our shoes and I covered my legs with a shawl, the rule seems to be that you aren't allowed to show your knees. Personally I don't think knees are very sexy, but Indians seem to feel very different about this. The legs need to be covered, but the belly is naked when you wear a sarong and we saw more women showing a bit of breasts than showing their knees! The courtyard is very big and can hold up to 25.000 people according to our LP. Below you see a photo of a part of the very peaceful courtyard with the Red Fort in the distance.
But we are feeling a bit exhausted now, so many impressions directly after our long travel is a bit too much. In our hotel we take a lot of cold beer and enjoy the air-conditioning. We have to get used to the level of service: three waiters and one head-waiter watch continuously over as many customers. Each move you make or look you cast can result in the prompt arrival of one of these! The waiters are allowed to take your order and to get the beer, but only the head-waiter is allowed to open it and distribute it in the glasses (free info in case you want to take a waiter job over here). Beer is very expensive in India and sometimes hard to get, we will miss our Belgian tripel beer a lot!