Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Grand Tour: Delhi


That is pretty much how Delhi greets you.  The place hits you from all sides, in all of your senses, over and over and over again.

Rickshaws....the very definition of sensory overload.

We found them thrilling, but probably because we didn't think too hard about what would have happened had things not gone exactly right on those one way streets we were driving the wrong way on.

Mopeds...the men always seemed to get the helmets, the women added color to the whole operation.

Bicycles...not one of them was without a precarious load.

Vehicles...they all would put the occupants of American carpool lanes to shame.

Animals...finding the oddest places to be comfortable.

And people, 

people, everywhere.

After a moment spent getting our bearings, we asked a rickshaw to take us to Karim's Hotel, a restaurant (not, I think, a hotel) that just about any publication you look to will tell you is not to be missed.

And it is not.

Upstairs on the mezzanine, Paul and I contentedly drank our cold sodas and devoured our redolent, restorative food.  We at that moment felt, for the first time during the trip, that we were really in truly in India, and it was just as we hoped it would be.

Suitably fortified, we decided to take a stroll around Old Delhi.  Although perhaps not as picturesque an experience as we had anticipated (it turns out that, contrary to just about every other city I've visited, the old part of Delhi is not, in fact, really where you want to be) it was fascinating nonetheless.  Everyone's an entrepreneur!  We saw bookbinders, car engine refurbishers, butchers,

poultry raisers,

toastmakers (?)

and others literally every place we looked.  You can't help but be inspired by the ingenuity and initiative that the community collectively represents.  Is this what America was like 100 years ago I wonder?

The rest of the afternoon was spent sightseeing, first the Red Mosque which, although we were made to view it barefoot and draped in mumus, was quite impressive.

It's held up decently well over the last 350 years, no?

And then, eager for red tourist site number 2, we headed over to the Red Fort.  After walking down a dodgy thruway and taking our lives in our hands by crossing a six lane road at rush hour, we were elated that we'd made it.

We walked and walked,

and finally, after what seemed like hours, found the front gate...just as closing time was upon us.  So back to the hotel it was for a quick nap and a shower before dinner out with friends.

We were incredibly lucky to have been introduced to two wonderful guys in the music business in India.  Happily, they happened to both be in Delhi at the same time we were and took us out for what would be one of our two best meals of the trip (the other would be the meal they took us to in Mumbai).

These kind gentlemen picked us up at our hotel and ferried us to a place that will live in infamy (in our minds at least)...

Lazeez Affaire.  Oh how I miss your biryani!

Dhruv and Vijay were our fabulous dinner companions.  Young, fun, brilliant entrepreneurs, these guys also happened to be epic orderers.  God what a meal.

After dinner they drove us through what I can only assume is the Beverly Hills of Delhi.  Wide open boulevards, lush vegetation, massive homes which Dhruv assured me go for no less than $60 million (yes, that is dollars, not rupees), I think it is safe to say there is some significant power and wealth concentrated in that city.  

After such a fabulous evening Paul and I decided that, assuming we had a driver and hooked up with some locals first thing upon arrival, a return visit to Delhi would definitely be a good time.  Sadly, as we had been advised by friends in States to get in and get out of Delhi as quickly as possible, there would be no time this trip to explore the city further, as we were scheduled to go to Jaipur the following day.

Bright and (sort of) early the next day, we headed to the Old Delhi Train Station (one of many train stations in the city...clearly the influence of the British methinks, given that London has three or four times the number of train stations that New York does).

We were a tad confused about where to go at first,

but eventually found our bearings.

Delhi was soon behind us.


Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

You are back and in rare form, Laura! You know, India was never on my radar screen as a place to visit, but numerous traveling friends have put it there. And your account here reiterates what a lively, fascinating place it is.

Sneaky Magpie said...

Ha, we had a shocker at the train station in Beijing, it's bigger than a large airport and only one of many in the city. Luckily the trains were numbered and corresponding with the tickets!

Delhi sounds exciting, nothing better than a local for food adventures.

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