Friday, October 26, 2012

Quantum Delhi

I found Delhi a weird place. Not as bad as the friend who said "If you find anywhere nice in Delhi, then you're not in Delhi any more" had led me to expect, but odd. It felt like two cities inhabiting the same point in the space-time continuum, but slightly out of phase with each other. One city is one of the wealthiest in the world, full of consumerism, high property prices, obligatory car ownership, middle-class aspirations, brand names, western clothing and shopping mall culture; the other city is a city of beggars, roadside shanties and people defecating in the street. And of course in the middle of all this there are ancient monuments and buildings such as can be found in any large city with sufficient history.

Government employees on the way to work. Srsly: the monkey is a "pest controller".

We were treated to a whistle-stop tour of the city, and saw the points that all the tourists have to see, and had a bicycle rickshaw ride, and all that. I had cunningly arranged my wardrobe such that I would be respectable and decent for the Jama Mosque, but I was still required to don a floral hospital gown over my clothing - despite the fact that my clothing was longer and hanging out of the gown. Our guide Manjit (a former Surrey cricketer) apologised and explained that this was a recent requirement - ever since a group of Australians decided to strip off for a photoshoot in the mosque, all women not wearing traditional dress are made to wear the Gown of Shame. Thanks Oz.

Qutub Minar

I quite liked Humayun's Tomb - partly because it is an impressive piece of architecture, but mostly because there was a family of kites I could watch goofing around together as they tried to build a nest.

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