04 December 2011

India, As I Expected It–Old Delhi

Before we had the all-day outing to see the Taj Mahal, etc., we took an evening out to venture to Old Delhi (as opposed to New Delhi, where were staying) and see The Red Fort. India was all about forts back in the day. This one was also red, like The Agra Fort.

I think the evening journey started when all eight (yes, eight!!) of us climbed into one single rickshaw. I didn’t know it could be done! But we did it. We unloaded at the Metro station and went underground to ride the subway. We sat through many stops until ours came. And we exited the metro. And then, at THAT VERY MOMENT, I had entered the India I had expected to experience. The India I had imagined, prior to ever visiting. The India that intimated me and made me okay with never seeing it for myself.

The place was packed. People of all walks of life converged in this one metro stop. We walked with the flow of traffic and my eyes were wide. I can’t even begin to describe all the sorts of people I saw. I was just amazed.

We continued with the crowds down a long outdoor walkway, met on all sides with vendors and Hindu worship places and beggers and stench and stares and filth. And this was just beginning. We slowly made our way through the streets and sidewalks (if you can call them that) that were crammed with rickshaws, bicycles, cars, wild dogs, giant carts, approximately 7,873,085 people and loads of trash and Idunnoknowwhatelse.

It was intense. At this point my thoughts revolved around these main ideas:

“Now this is what I expected all of India to be like. Yikes!”

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.”

“Don’t step in that!”

“It’s so loud I can’t think.”

“Ewwww, what is that smell?”

“Another guy with no shoes on? So sad.”

“Don’t step in that!”

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.”

“Oh no!! Did someone step in that?!”

Okay. You get the idea. It was some serious madness! Part of me wanted to get some pictures, but the other part of me was suffering from a severe case of over-stimulation that I couldn’t possibly think about one more thing like taking pictures amongst all the racket. I know this is sounding a bit negative. Would you prefer I use words like vibrant? Lively? Energetic? Call it what you will. The streets were nuts.

We eventually made it to our destination.

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The Red Fort!

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I won’t relay any history to you about another fort, cause I really don’t know and you really don’t care.

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One thing I will show you today is what we’ll call the “Photo Phenomenon.”

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There is something, something STRONG, that compels people to take photos of white kids. It happens many places we travel, but this particular evening the Photo Phenomenon was extremely powerful. (I’ll try to avoid the word ‘annoying’. Whooops! It slipped out! Sorry about that…)

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Wherever the kiddos were,

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there was a following.

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There were any number of cameras shamelessly pointed in our direction.

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Generally, we are used to this and don’t mind a whole lot. But this night it was ridiculous.

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I mean, we were hardly left alone.

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Once one guy starts, the others think they’re missing out, so they pull their camera out too.

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Sometimes, it wasn’t aimed at a child, but at me! What does someone want with a picture of a random white lady looking angry and annoyed because she’s getting her picture taken by some stranger?

I just don’t understand it.

Sometimes, I took a picture back. Ha! That’ll teach ‘em!!

But that didn’t really seem to bother them. Ack. Revenge never works. I should’ve known.

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Anyway, despite the mostly-present paparazzi, we had a look around and enjoyed ourselves.

(Side note: I can still comfortably carry my four year old son on my front or my back with my incredible Ergo Carrier!" Rejoice! I especially enjoyed it this day because when he’s walking by my side we can’t talk about what we’re seeing and what’s around us without stopping and bending down… it’s just too loud otherwise to hear each other. But if he’s on my front he’s literally right in my face and we can have a nice little conversation! Never mind how many times I knocked him in the head with my camera, poor little dude.)

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There was an indoor market with tons of character and color.

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Sweet N was quick to spot the “Baaaaa” (Bags) and point them out to her Daddy. I promise I didn’t teach her that.

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She also learned a new word: “Touch!”

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The grounds were beautiful.

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There was lots of space to explore.

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And jump!

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And other opportunities to get pooped on by pigeons.

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And still other opportunities to sit by Daddy and pout. Not sure why he was pouting, but he’s sure cute doing it! Maybe he was sick of cameras in his face…

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We stayed after dark for a light show that was a faaaaaaar cry from the laser light show we were expecting. So we walked out and made the reverse journey back through the intimating India.

We eventually arrived back to the quiet, clean(ish) part of the city where our friends live.

And then we exhaled. And showered.

Amen.

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