Sensory Overload in India
Trip Start Apr 24, 2011
13Trip End May 13, 2011
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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