Oh, Delhi...

Trip Start Dec 15, 2012
Trip End Dec 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Southex Residency
What I did
Friday Mosque (Jama Masjid) New Delhi
Read my review - 2/5 stars
India Gate New Delhi
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Tomb of Gandhi

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

    Upon arrival to Delhi, I was initially impressed by the modern look and facilities of Indira Gandhi International Airport.  Our tour guide and driver greeted us at the gate with a necklace of marigolds and I was pleasantly surprised by the nice SUV we would have for the duration of our time in India's Golden Triangle, or Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.  The drive to our hotel was a bit scary but nothing compared to what we would see later.  I was initially regretting my decision to visit India at the first glimpse of the hotel we stayed at because the surrounding area looked like a war scene in Hollywood's version of the Middle East, but this would be the most basic hotel we would stay at in India.  In the end, we actually grew quite fond of the hotel and the staff.  I guess I had been spoiled by my stay in Shanghai's beforehand, but this hotel possessed all the basic amenities such as hot water, television, phone. 

    The room we stayed at the first two nights were just bare and not as polished to typical western standards.  Staff didn't speak or understand much English but were accommodating and not demanding of tips.  We had to ask for breakfast and it took about half an hour for them to prepare and serve, but it was delicious, nonetheless.  I had to be careful with the bottled water, however, because some of the bottles were simply refilled and recapped rather than brand new.  I read that it is a common trend in India. 

    The day tour of Delhi was not something I'd do again.  It was interesting and probably worth my time due to brief interaction with locals interested in foreigners, but both Old and New Delhi were overcrowded, noisy, and dusty.  Despite being careful by drinking sealed bottled water, hot tea, and cooked/boiled food, my stomach began to act up on the first day and would remain that way through the entire India-Bhutan-Nepal trip.

    First stop was the Friday Mosque, and I was totally unprepared to cough up money numerous times to see something I would classify as a site of mediocre beauty.  There is an entrance fee, a fee to purchase stained white bathroom slippers, a fee to bring in cameras, and a fee to borrow a large tablecloth pajama combination to cover any foreign female even if she's fully clothed with a long sleeve shirt and long pants.  I saw another tourist just give up at this last hurdle and leave the mosque, obviously frustrated by what seemed to be unfair costs.  After looking around the mosque for about twenty minutes, we took a rickshaw around the city of Old Delhi, and it gave me a very real perspective of the country's poverty.  People washing on the streets, children begging for money, what appeared to be unsafe electrical wires all over the poles and walls.  And tons of people.  I thought country of over a billion people, city of overpopulation.  And poor traffic regulations.  I am positive there are traffic laws, but they are certainly poorly executed both by the people and the controllers.  Expect many honks, unsafe overtaking, and close-to-collision encounters which would again haunt me throughout my trip in the Golden triangle.   

    Tomb of Gandhi was a good, quiet break from the noisy city.  I had to take off my shoes again, but this site was free with no extraneous fees, and I simply reused my already reused slippers from the Friday Mosque.  I had a fun interaction with local school children who were on a field trip.  They were friendly with foreigners and wanted to take pictures with us, asking us our names, commenting they were beautiful names. 

    Then I visited India Gate, which has an eerie resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, only because the gate was inspired by the Parisian monument.  Overall, vibrant place full of tourists and locals. 

    We were too late to see the Bahai Lotus Temple, as the place would have been closed by the time we were past the line that extended for about half a mile.  It looked cool from the outside, though. 

    The night ended early, around 5pm.  We asked the tour guide if there was anything else to do, but he said there really wasn't much besides the mall which would close in a few more hours.  I was a bit relieved to relax, as I was controlling my liquid intake all day to limit my bathroom use, as the bathrooms were not always sanitary or breathable.  I was so glad I had brought along a roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer/wipes, pepto bismol/immodium, cold medicine/pain killers. 
They would be a life saver throughout my entire trip. 

    We found one cool cafe/restaurant near the hotel that looked safe, clean, and somewhat of a suitable place to chill out at without receiving stares from men we had been receiving all day.  It did happen to be my birthday, so we shared a carrot cake slice with a lit candle after a small supper.  I was saddened by the fact that the only nice place nearby the hotel was closing down due to lack of business.

    After returning to the hotel that night, or it could have been the night after, I was reading through my BBC world news app and learned of a 23-year-old medical student had been gang raped on a bus in the city that I had just toured.  It saddened and frightened me at the same time, as I was a female similar to her age.  Who knows what could have happened if my friends and I had wandered off a bit farther from the hotel or had chosen to return a bit later from the restaurant?  Throughout my trip, I continued to follow her struggle for life and the public's growing outrage, reading about the protests taking over Delhi Gate and the gates of politicians' quarters.  The news coverage showed disappointing execution of the leaders' promises, as an undercover female reporter received a cold shoulder from an on-duty policeman while being harassed by two or more men at a dark metro station
    The demand for justice and anger seemed to have exploded last night when the victim passed away at a hospital in Singapore.  Knowing that she was raped on my birthday, while we were both in Delhi, leaves me with a very heavy feeling, and I wish peace for her soul and will always carry a sense of burden for her family and friends who had to and will continue to suffer for the incident.  I also hope for a better Delhi where women will be protected and feel safe, regardless of the time of the day or the location. 

    I love the picture of the schoolgirls I took at Gandhi's Tomb, as the girls were so friendly, outgoing, and seemed to be free of any worries, besides the nagging of their teachers to hurry up and stop taking pictures with strange foreigners.  I would like to see girls in Delhi grow up to be strong and confident, intelligent leaders of their communities, while still maintaining that child-like trust and unspoken genuine belief that the world can be a loving and beautiful place.
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Emily on

Hi Amy! Love the pictures - so bright and candid. You're a great photographer!

Yeah, I'm with you on the treatment of women and attitude towards rape in India. It's really scary and completely unacceptable. I'm glad you and your friends were okay on your trip. I really hope India will see a change in their social culture and view of women within our lifetime - appreciated your last remarks about the young girls that you photographed. I hope they can grow up in a society that is a safe and respectful towards women too!

Thanks for sharing your blog Amy! I hope to catch up on your entries over time!

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