Sensory Overload in India

Trip Start Apr 24, 2011
Trip End May 13, 2011

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Monday, April 25, 2011

We hit the ground running this morning. At 8:30 am, it was about 90 degrees and though we never saw a temperature reading throughout the day, Robert and I each drank in excess of 2 liters (over gallon) of water by the time we returned to the hotel this evening.

Our guide for the next three weeks will be a young Indian named Girish, an attorney by education whose been guiding Americans through India for the past 14 years. The objective for today was to map out an experience in Delhi, capital of the modern state of India, and home to around 16 million people.

We started at the Friday Mosque, India's largest mosque, set in the center of Old Delhi. The Mughal dynasty from Central Asia conquered most of the subcontinent in the 17th century, bringing another wave of Islam to this mostly Hindu land. The mosque is one of the many architectural jewels they left behind.

From the mosque, our local guide wound her way through the alleys and lanes of the old city, where every imaginable kind of commerce and trade was being practiced, much of it in ways or with tools I had never seen but that probably would have dated back 100 years or more in North America.

Our next stop was a Sikh temple at lunch time. All Sikh temples serve free meals three times a day. Foreigners are welcomed to watch the preparation in the kitchen, which I found fascinating! Soup had been cooked in massive vats and the bread-making process could have been what inspired Henry Ford to develop his assembly line breakthrough.

As we were leaving the kitchen, we were invited to go into the dining room for a look, then invited to sit and participate in the meal. We wound our long legs beneath us (it is rude to point one’s feet at someone) and took in the sensation of sharing a meal with about 500 Indians.

The walk continued down the leafy boulevards of the colonial period to the president’s palace and the parks leading to the India Arch, a war memorial left by the British and adopted as a symbol of gratitude to all Indians lost in India’s wars during the modern period.

We stopped at a market area we will probably use for a lunch break (complete with a McDonalds and a Subway sandwich shop), then finished the walk in the Lodi Gardens. Prior to the Mughals, the Lodis, Muslim invaders from present-day Afghanistan, ruled the area around Delhi. The Lodi Gardens are a cool retreat in the southern part of Delhi builtd to house several impressive mausoleums from the late 16th century.

Well into our 2nd liter of water, we relaxed in the cool of the mausoleum with Girish, admiring the amazing filigree plaster work and the 500 year old color preserved at the top of the cupolas.

Our first day in India was a WOW!! More to tell and show than I can share in this blog. Beside that, it is  already 11 pm and time to crash in preparation for the Taj Mahal – tomorrow’s project!
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Dani on

Glad to see you made it safely! Love the pics!

hildee on

Wow! I am so excited about this trip. Safe travels.

Beverly Davies on

I love your pictures and commentary, Dan! Who did the driving to your starting point? Isn't the traffic in India a different experience!

friesendm on

Beverly, we have a guide with us all time, 1/2 Sikh and 1/2 Hindu, though these terms are a bit overlapping. Our driver is a Sikh, complete with turban, who navigates the traffic skillfully. Traffic is like a very complicated dance you start learning from birth. Even the cows seem to know how it works.

Beverly Davies on

A dance is an interesting way to describe the traffic flow. Very descriptive, Dan!

Dolores S. on

Really enjoyed seeing Delhi again. I remember having to ' adopt a cow' to help me cross the street. Don't forget to go to the Taj Majal at sun rise to see it in the reflection pools for good photos. An experience to remember.

Beverly Davies on

I've only seen Deli from the airport, so it'll be interesting to walk there and experience scenes from your photos!

Mamie Bennett on

Glad to see you have made it from cool and comfortable Istanbul to Delhi. Will be following you on the blogs. Take care.

friesendm on

Thanks Mamie - did you see your grandson's comment on the blog regarding Pergamum. Pretty cute!

friesendm on

We haven't had to rent a cow yet, Dolores, but walking behind one is obviously the safest place as far as traffic goes, but does entail other liabilities, if you know what I mean.

friesendm on

Yup, Diane, makes the old "how many people in a phone booth game" look tamely Western.

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