We decide to leave Thursday night so we can take Friday off to explore the city. Deanne and I will have to work all day Saturday interviewing people, but all three of us will have Sunday off as well to explore before catching flights home Sunday evening
. We're on the same flight to Delhi (Kingfisher Air again...I love this airline)...and upon arrival into Delhi we're picked up by our hotel car. The hotel we're staying at this time is the Oberoi which is primarily an Asian based chain...but a very, very nice chain. I'm actually surprised how many Asian based luxury hotel chains I've stayed at aren't operating in the US at the scale they are in Asia. The Taj hotel group, Leela, Oberoi, Oriental are all top notch hotels but they aren't that prevalent in the states...but I digress. We get to the hotel, check in and decide to take it easy tonight and just grab a quick meal in the hotel bar. That ended up being a great call as they food they served here was great and consisted of stuff you can't get in Hyderabad. I had some great sushi and the girls had hamburgers. I haven't had sushi in over 3 months so it definitely hit the spot.
Friday we sleep in a bit, then organize a car to the take us around to the various sites. First site was the Red Fort...in order to get there our driver (Aman) took us to a parking spot where we hopped into waiting rickshaws to catch a ride to the Red Fort. We took a stroll through the fort and it was indeed impressive. I've got to keep this entry short as I'm being lazy tonight, but you can read a lot more about the Red Fort and it's history by clicking here.
After the fort, we took a short drive to the India Gate
. This monument has been built as a memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War One and it contains an eternal flame burning for all fallen Indian soldiers. There were tons of tourists here which meant there were tons of touts trying to sell their crap to you. There was even a snake charmer that I wished I would have spent more time at. Near the India Gate is a small man made pond where the local kids were having a blast swimming around in the murky water...yech. Next stop was the president's house...but like the White House in the US, you can only get so close to where the big man lives. Our driver said he wasn't even allowed to stop the taxi so in order to take a picture of the house, I had to jump out of the cab while it was moving and then jump back in while it was moving...otherwise he said the security/army guys would yell at him. Next was a long drive to south Delhi to visit the Lotus Temple which is also known as the Bahá'í House of Worship. Looking remarkably like the Sydney Opera House...the temple is said to be inspired by the lotus flower and is made of 27 free-standing marble clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. It's a pretty remarkable looking building and is used as a house of worship for any religion. The only rule about visiting this Lotus Temple is that you cannot take photo's of the inside and you must remain completely silent while inside. That was sort of nice to get a 10 minute break from the noise of India. According to wikipedia, the Lotus Temple has attracted more than 50 million visitors, making it the most visited building in the world (I find that hard to believe...but look it up...it might be true)
. After our visit here we stop in at a US chain pub/restaurant and I actually was able to have some BBQ smoked ribs that were so good I almost cried. We were all incredibly sweating and stinky but we had one more place to check off our list before we called it today, so back in the cab we went and this time we were off to the Qutub Minar (read more about it here
). It's a pretty remarkable tower considering it was built in the 12th century...and I guess UNESCO agrees as they made it a World Heritage Site. There were many oppty's for quality photos around here and I even got into a staring contest with a dog that was taking a nap near the tower (see my pics). After an hour here snapping away, we went back to the hotel for a quick cleanup and then we were off for dinner. We had some great Chinese food at a place called "Red" and then off to a local club called Elevate. Indian bars have a bad habit of charging 1000-2000 rupees for entry so I told Deanne and Melissa to stick their chests out and try to get us in at a reduced rate. All three of us were able to get in for 1000 total and we even got that amount back in drink vouchers...so it wasn't bad. Even though we got to the club around 11PM...it was dead. We were all ready for a late night but Melissa wasn't feeling so well and Deanne and I had to work the next day so by 12:30 we were back in the cab with Amman heading to the hotel.
Saturday was interview day....Deanne and I talked to about 13 people each over the course of 11 hours...I was exhausted
. Melissa enjoyed a nice spa day while we worked...and I hated her for it. J It was a decent interview day and we found several candidates we though would be a good fit. We also had a couple guys from our internal HR department with us to help organize and shuttle the candidates around which meant our group was larger for the evening festivities Saturday night.
Saturday night we all went to dinner at a great Italian restaurant in the Hyatt...and I mean great even by US standards. The wine flowed like water and the food was spectacular...how in the hell am I going to go back to Hyderabad after being so spoiled by the food here in Delhi? After dinner we head over to one of the newest clubs in Delhi...the franchised Ministry of Sound (MOS). Guess who was playing? The same singer I saw in Hyderabad a couple weeks ago...Simon Webbe. As a result the cover charge was incredibly steep (INR1500/couple or $37US/couple). The HR guys said that was too steep for them so they bailed and it was just Melissa, Deanne and I who went in for the show. It was a good venue for a concert as the stage was elevated about 15 feet above the dance floor so everyone had a good view of the concert. Before the concert they passed out the flexible glow sticks...which was a bad idea in hind-site. Simon came on around 11:30 and the crowd was so worked up in a frenzy that they immediately started to throw the glow sticks at their hero on stage. After being pelted in the face a few times he stopped the show and walked off stage. Ha! The crowd fell silent and everyone had a look on their face as to say..."What did we do? Where did he go? Couldn't he tell we were showing our love for him by trying to poke him in the eye with our glowsticks?". Eventually Simon's manager came out and told the crowd that he and Simon were leaving if one more object was thrown on stage
. The crowd responded with silence...but Simon came back on a few minutes later and the crowd was well behaved for the remainder of the show. Towards the end of the night we all made it to the dance floor and danced until 3AM as the DJ did his thing.
Sunday morning I slept in late and Melissa and Deanne went out to see some other sites. I had a hamburger for lunch (Woo hoo! Red meat!)...and checked out of the hotel around 3PM. My flight wasn't until 9 that night so I got a taxi and went out to explore a few more tourists sites in India. As I was leaving the hotle, Melissa and Deanne returned from their outing and told me I had to go visit the Sikh Temple so I added that to my list as well. First stop was the Raj Ghat which is where Mahatma Ghandi was cremated. It's a very special place for Indian's to visit and I would probably compare it to JFK's eternal flame in D.C. Like many places in India you have to take your shoes off before entering the complex which means your feet are a nice dirty brown by the time you leave. But if they didn't ask you to take your shoes off...the entire place would be even dirtier...so I sort of understand. After the Raj Ghat, I asked my driver to take me to the Jama Masjid which is just opposite the Red fort. The Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India and is accessed by a long side street which is packed with vendors selling everything form exotic spices to knock-off clothes to porn
. Yes...I said porn. On my way up to the mosque I noticed several clusters of men gathered around a certain vendors stall and curiosity eventually got the best of me so I walked over to one of the groups and peered over their shoulders to see what the heck was so popular that this guy had for sell. Turns out he had a photo album full of photos and was flipping page-by-page for all the men to see the photos. Use your imagination of what the photos were pictures of...let's say it wasn't pretty. Anyway, entry into the mosque itself requires a steep stair climb, removal of shoes, covering up your shoulders and payment of 200 rupees to take photos. The inside was spectacular and hopefully my pictures will do it justice. I would love to come back during a Friday prayer day when over 25,000 Muslims fill the mosque for prayers...that has to be a site. More information about the Jam Masjid can be found here
. My final tourist destination in Delhi was perhaps my favorite...and I only visited here because Deanne and Melissa mentioned that I should when I bumped into them at the hotel. The Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is the main gurudwara for the many Sikhs of Delhi. What is a gurudwara you might ask? It literally means "the doorway to the Guru" and represents the Sikh place of worship and may also be referred to as a Sikh temple. The most famous and the holiest gurdwara is the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, in northern India...I can't wait to visit that as it looks amazing in photos. But for now I have to make do with this smaller gurudwara in Delhi...which was very cool as well. Just in case you don't know what a Sikh is...you can read more about there here
. Most of you would recognize a Sikh by their trademark turban, long beard and a steel bracelet worn on the right wrist. Sikhism intrigues me as it's probably one of the worlds most tolerant religions. Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, summed up the basis of Sikh lifestyle in three requirements: meditate on the holy name, work diligently and honestly and share ones fruits
. The followers of sikhism, Sikhs, with their turban and uncut hair, are proud and definitely distinct; yet they show respect to the followers of other religions. Non-Sikhs can partake fully in Sikh prayer meetings and social functions. Their daily prayers include the well being of whole mankind. Visitors of any religious or socio-economic background are welcomed. Langar (free food for all) is always served. Anyway, back at the gurudwara I was immediately recognized as a non-Sikh and quickly ushered into to the tourist office where a most pleasant Sikh gave me a run down of the rules (see pic) and offered to take me on a tour which I gladly accepted. So after taking off my shoes and putting a scarf on top of my head we were off. First stop was the feet washing station where everyone has to pass through to keep from mucking up the place. Then we entered the Darbar Sahib which is a large hall which houses the SGGS or the Sikh holy book. Most of the worshippers were sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor and those that weren't were walking around the holy book in a clockwise circle stopping to pray every so often. The Sikhs treat their holy Book like a living Teacher or Guru and it's a place of silent prayer and devotion...thus the show of respect by removing your shoes, washing your feet and covering your head. Interesting stuff. Next stop was a communal eating area where Sikhs and visitors alike are offered Kara Parshad which is a sweet flour and oil based chunk of dough like substance. You accept in your cupped hands and only in cupped hands. I tried it...it tasted like it sounds...oily, bland dough. After that I was directed to the bathing area where Sikh's of all shapes and sizes were bathing (the adults fully clothed and the kids mostly naked). Sikh view bathing as sort of a spiritual cleansing and from what I saw, it's also a family bonding experience...sort of like a US family going on a camping trip. The bathing area made for some great photo opportunities which I hope you'll enjoy.
Back to the hotel to collect my bags and then off on my Kingfisher Air flight to Hyderabad...a great trip to Delhi.
I've been participating in a lot of recruiting events for my company as it's been great way to meet a lot of good people from my company, to feel like I am contributing back to the firm and I even got a free trip to Mumbai as you read in a previous blog entry. This weekend another recruiting opportunity outside of town presented itself and I find myself heading up to the capital of India, New Delhi...or as many of the locals simply call it, Delhi. Like my previous trip, I'll be going with some coworkers, but this time it's Deanne and Melissa...two other expats from the states. That's both a good thing and a bad thing....good because I know we'll be going out and eating a lot of good non-Indian food...bad because I sort of wanted to bond with some of my Indian coworkers. Oh well...I'll make the best of it and I know I'll have fun with these two.