This morning we are on a walking tour of the old city. The first stop on our itinerary was a visit to a very big Moslem Mosque. Occupying the perimeters around the complex are the pavement dwellers. In the day time they all become street vendors using their banana lounges to display their wares, and at night these temporary shop counters become their beds. DJ tells me that in the past on the days of worship the king, astride his very be-jewelled elephant, would lead the royal procession to attend prayers. It must have been a grand scene with all the beautiful fountains and gardens leading up to the mosque. Sadly, this is all gone.
You can still see where the fountains were, but the gardens have become a shanty town for the poor. From the towers of the mosque you get sweeping views of the whole of Delhi - believe me it goes on for miles.
We took a very timely food break at a nearby street vendor, the smell of cooking and spices was making us all very hungry. This particular stall was very well known to DJ who assured us that these were the best samosas in Delhi, and I didn't disagree - in fact they were the best samosas I had ever tasted. Fred, of course, went overboard with the hot chilli dressing. I hope we don't pay for his folly on the 18 hour train journey tonight!
Next stop was a visit to a Sikh temple.
It is the home of the Gurdwara Sikhs. This faction of the Sikhs was formed many years ago, because they disagreed with some of the more radical Sikh beliefs, eg: that a woman had to burn herself on her husbands funeral pyre.
My understanding is that they have taken the better things from other religions and formed the Gudwara Sikhs. The holy ones who travel around from temple to temple all over India are most splendidly dressed in their purple turbans, purple tunics, big sabres by their side and being as they don't cut or shave their hair they have magnificent beards and moustaches. They look most regal.
We arrived at prayer time, the music was really good -in fact I'd buy their CD! The belief of the Sikhs is to feed
those who need it and provide shelter to a traveller. The kitchen is run by volunteers and I have never seen such big cooking pots, they are enormous. There were also several women sitting
crossed legged on the floor making roti and nan bread by the basket load. They can feed up to 1000 people at a sitting! The Sikhs believe that all the good you do in this life will ensure a better life in the next. Giving money doesn't count, you have to give of yourself.
I really liked the Gurdwara Sikhs.
We caught the Metro back to our hotel. This rail system was built for the Commonwealth games, unlike most things in India this is fast and efficient. Woman travel in the first compartment, men in the rest. This is so that at very busy times there is no body contact with the opposite sex. When we disembarked at Karol Bargh, we were literally carried along by a sea of people, it was a body crush! Back at Hotel Perfect we collected our belongings and headed off to the railway station.
At 4.45pm we caught the overnight train to Jaisalmer. This experience was worth it's weight in gold.
After fighting our way down the aisle to our allotted compartment, the next thing we did was to chain our big bags under our seats, and then use our smaller bag with all our valuables in as a pillow. The seats convert to six bunks, 3 on each side. Doris and I took on the roles of security officers, as we had the bottom bunks.
Sheets, pillows and blankets were provided. About 4 hours into the journey a load of men entered our carriage. They were, in fact, army guys which we had guessed correctly as they all had the same backpacks. This is no exaggeration, but for the next 2 hours they kept filing pass, ripping open our curtains and checking the seat numbers of our compartments and every other compartment. Further into the night more soldiers got on and so we had the same thing all over again. It was loud, it was noisy, but most of all it was entertaining. I'm going to let Doris tell you more about the train journey. Personally, I wouldn't put a lot of trust in the Indian army to perform secret covert missions - shit they couldn't even find their seats on a train!
Poo Story No 1. At about 4.30am I had a few tummy rumbles. I gave it 10 mins then decided I'd better visit the toilet or to put it a better way, the hole in the floor of the train. They do have English toilets if your brave enough to park your bum on what can only be described as a lifetime of built up filth. Sorry I digress. I had to wake Doris, being as we were in charge of security, to let her know that she was fully responsible in my absence. Doris, wasn't very happy with me, she claimed that she had only just got to sleep and now I'd woken her up. I made my apologies to her, then asked for the toilet paper that she had tucked away in her bag. I told her not to go to sleep, but to stay alert - the security of our belongings depended on her! When I got back, she decided that seeing as she was awake she might as well go to the toilet. Doris had only been gone 2 minutes when the train stopped at the next station. The upshot of this is that Doris has made her mark in India and left a little deposit on track 1 platform 1 at a railway station somewhere between Delhi and Jaisalmer. Good effort Doris.
At 8am we caught a bus to Old Delhi without incident.