This morning, we decided to pound the pavement. Our first adventure was riding the subway (at my insistence!). It was rush hour, so the train was full when we got on and only got more crowded as we headed towards the center of town. At the transfer point between the two lines, we were pushed out of the train and had to re-board. Luckily, a nice local man informed us that it would be OK if we got pushed off before it actually happened. There was just no way to stand our ground while people surged on and off the train. At the end of the line, we walked down a major road past some very poor tenements. The poverty here is difficult to witness: when people ask for money, Jon and I had decided in advance not to offer any, since there are usually large groups of children. Giving money to one would mean we'd have to give some to everybody. Nobody has been rude or mean to us, but it is a bit heartbreaking to see so many people who probably go to bed hungry each night.
Our first stop was the India Gate, which is a military monument. Getting there required crossing about 8 lanes of traffic. We went to the nearest crosswalk, but that seems to mean little to the drivers! Following the locals, we crossed "Frogger-style" going one lane at a time. As we reached the other side, a police officer was chuckling at us as we celebrated our accomplishment. Next we took off on foot for Lodi Gardens, which was a nice place to sit down, rest, and take in the lovely plants. After that, we headed for a local marketplace for lunch.
Then, we took an autorickshaw (picture a lawn mower with wheels!) across the south side of Delhi to a few shrines. One was a beautiful one in honor of a leader, and it was the prototype for the Taj Mahal. It was amazing!
Next, we crossed the street to a local Islam shrine. What a different experience! Where the first shrine had lush, sprawling grounds, this one was at the end of a network of narrowing streets. It was extremely disorienting , and it made me a tad nervous. Still, we pushed through and saw a beautiful shrine with quite a few people praying. It was quite an sensory overload: ornate beauty, strong incense, etc.
After that we took a walk back to the India Gate and down a grass strip to the subway station. As we headed back north, we encountered a new problem: we weren't able to get off! Our stop was the same one we had trouble with earlier, but this time, so many people were boarding the train that we couldn't fight our way to the door! Luckily, a kind police officer offered us some assistance in disembarking. After a informal dinner, we're resting up from about 6 miles of walking today. Delhi has such strange contradictions: there's quite a divide between the haves and have-nots, and while some streets are beautiful green shaded boulevards, others are little more that dusty trails clogged with traffic.