Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 3 -- Delhi's Old Fort area

Our second day in New Delhi was another wonderful experience. As seasoned users of the Delhi metro, we were able to again commute at rush hour up to the Red Fort area. This was no easy feat as it involved changing trains at the central-most station. Still, after only getting pushed off once, we made our way to the historic northeast portion of town. The Red Fort and Old Delhi were both very intense experiences: the number of people asking for money, to sell us goods, give us rickshaw rides, etc only increased the closer we got to these tourist attractions. The Red Fort is an interesting mix of local architecture and British influence. It offered some lovely views off to the east: an area we hadn't been able to see most of our wanderings had been to the south. Then, it was off down the main street to a restaurant we'd heard good things about on Chowhound. Its dining room was set off from the street quite a bit, and we certainly appreciated the opportunity to get away from the traffic and noise. After lunch, it was off to the Gandhi memorial. Although the building is small (there are actually quite a few Gandhi memorials in Delhi), the artifacts housed there were quite impressive: one of the bullets from his fatal shooting as well as the garments he wore that day. His message of working to support the local economy was an interesting counterpoint to the American idea of outsourcing to India! Had he been alive today, I wonder how he might have felt about that. Next, we took an autorickshaw to the city's largest mosque. It was immense and offered us an opportunity to climb one of the towers for a view of the city. Despite the pollution, you could really get a sense of how large and sprawling Delhi is.

The next few hours were spent making our way through the local shopping markets. What an experience! I don't really know hot to relate how disorienting it can be to walk down such crowded streets with cars/motorbikes zooming by and honking while salespeople try to shout over each other for your attention. The best way to make it through is to try and follow the locals and watch out for all moving vehicles! One street we went down was a spice market, and the sheer aroma of the place was enough to really bowl you over!

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