On arrival in Delhi, I had to laugh, the many touts that mob you as you come out of the station, get a little mad when you won’t say which hotel you are staying at and start to jostle you a little. I ignore them and head for a tuk tuk to take me to the hotel, for which I have exact directions. Even with me ignoring them, they still follow and then tell me ‘many hotels have burned overnight and my hotel could be one of them”. It’s a ploy to abandon your own booking and go to a hotel where they will get a commission. Likewise arriving at the training station to catch a train, you are told all trains have been cancelled but they can get me a bus to whatever destination I am headed for, for a very good price especially for me :-). More ignoring. I guess someone falls for the ruse if they continue with the story day after day.
I was very happy to hang out with Caroline from Netherlands who arrived in Delhi the same day as me. We could share horror stories and shield one another from the mob walking down the street. We did some sightseeing together, seeing the Masjid Mosque, Connaught Place, India Gate, Lodhi Gardens, Lotus Temple and Gallery of Modern Art which was just wonderful. Caroline was heading to Agra today and then onwards to Rishikesh for yoga teacher training, so we skipped out on seeing the Red Fort, as apparently the fort in Agra is far better. I’ll head there next week. BTW, Rishikesh is famous not only as a yoga & meditation instruction location, but also for the 40+ songs written by the Beatles while there, some of which were included in the White Album. Does that make it mainstream?
Of the sightseeing we did, I had two favourites. The Lotus Temple is #1 for sure. It’s a Baha’i place of worship and the attraction for me is that it embraces all religions, any place that can do that is worth visiting. The queues were long and outside on an unshaded path in 46 degree weather, but it was still worth it to visit the main hall of worship – a very serene and holy place. I must admit the main hall was cooler than outside so we might have stayed a tad longer than necessary. My #2 was the National Gallery of Modern Art. Really fabulous to roam around oodles of art pieces in two huge buildings of an afternoon – I had not done that in a long long time. It was interesting to see the evolution of modern art in India, it’s link to Independence, up to today’s offerings. I loved the sculptures and free-standing installations, it reminded me of when I stumbled across the Government School of Arts & Crafts in Kolkata, and watched a young artist making some Picasso-esque sculptures under a makeshift tarp in the gardens of the school. I forgot my camera that day, groan. But he told me the sales of his pieces fund his education, and mostly individuals buy his work. Pretty good for a budding artist!
I arrived in Jaipur tonight so stay tuned for more updates in the days to come.