Hello beautiful people!
I’m writing from a very hot and humid New Delhi. It’s now a week since I flew out of Perth after very teary goodbyes. I have done so much that there isn’t possibly enough time for me to capture the whole experience here. So let’s do a few bullet points:
* Taj Mahal
* Humayun’s Tomb
* Qtab Minar
* Fatehpur Sikri
* Agra (city)
* central Delhi emporiums
* Shri Lakshmi Narain temple
* Old Fort
* Pallika Bazar
As well as this, we have been to several other markets and shopping areas for .. you guessed it… shopping! Ange and I (and even Parik!) have been shopping up a storm. I’ve bought another backpack to fit it all in, so I’m hoping that I won’t be stopped at the airport with too much hand luggage 😛
For me, the most disconcerting thing has been the amount of attention Ange and I receive. Women usually give us a slight look out of the corner of their eye, but the men have no qualms in staring right at us as much as they fancy. This morning we were at a market/shopping area in downtown Delhi. Ange and I managed to find some shade as Parik and Dr Lumb trawled the shops to find him a new mobile. As we stood chatting (and perhaps sunburning) the guy in the shop/stall opposite stared at me. When we laughed at something the other said, his fascinated smile would increase as well. After about 15mins, I was a little fed up with his total lack of propriety. On Parik and his Dad’s return a few minutes later, I stood facing him and snapped his picture, whilst thinking (and probably saying) “let’s see how you like it”. Unfortunately, I think they enjoy the attention :-P. It makes you realise how celebrities must feel, being stared and gawked at constantly.
So, a land of extremes. At one time, Delhi may be sweltering in 40C heat whilst southern India is trainquil in mild temperatures. Immaculate shops sit between a pile of rubbish and grime covered apartment blocks. Some can earn as little as 500 rupees a month and some as much as millions per month. India is such a vibrant, varied and colourful place. I like to think of it as a sari shop. So many colours, styles and prices. Too many to see; you really have to know what you want.
Briefly, other things to note so far:
* Experiencing the sheer chaos of driving in India (negotiated very safely and skilfully by Dr Lumb!). Apparently the road rules are ‘just a guide’, as everyone does as the please anyways.
* People people people! There are people everywhere. Although I don’t find it particularly worrying, you do really notice that they are absolutely everywhere!
* Poverty. Nearly everywhere you go, there are very poor people trying to eke out a living. Some sleep on the median strips of the roads. Heartwrenching.
* “Madam madam, you buy? Only 200 rupees. Not much for you”. I have heard this and variations on this phrase hundreds and probably thousands of times. I’m getting good at saying “Nehi” (spelling?). Although they are very poor, and yes 200 rupees (approx $3.30 AUS) is not a lot of money, you just can’t buy everything from everyone. At Fatehpur Sikri, we were especially harassed, with people (young, old and very young) following us as we toured around it for over an hour. At the end of our tour, the hawkers were so intent on us that they wouldn’t let us close our doors. These were by far the most persistent. I managed to snap some photos of the (mostly) children shoving their hands through the windows of our car.
* Shopping = amazing! You can just about buy anything your heart desires (Indian or western). I personally now own seven saris (sarees?). Five of which I bought for under $400. Can anyone say bargain?
These are just a few of my observations and experiences. I wish I could capture for you precisely how incredible this place is!
It has been so great to have locals showing us around, and Parik has singlehandedly saved us a fortune with his “stubborn” bargaining. A big thank you must go to the Lumbs for welcoming us so warmly into their house and a special thanks also for Parik’s brother, who has had to give up his bedroom for us!
I only have 2 more days left in India, before my next stop in the UK. There is spend a couple of nights before flying out to spend two weeks with the lovely Lesley in Italy and France. I will be sad to leave, but bring on the next challenges! 🙂
Love to you all and missing you lots xxx
(sorry for the lack of spacing – I can’t get it to work 🙂 )