The first part of my trip to India, which included sightseeing in Agra and Jaipur, was written about previously. This entry follows on from that. If you read that one, then you will know that I had ended it with me being terribly sick on our drive back to Delhi. If you haven’t read it yet, please go back and have a look. It covers a lot of sights and some of my favourite photos from the trip.
Due to illness, and my husband Jeremy being involved in a conference, I spent a good portion of my time in the hotel. Most of the content here will be short summaries — feel free to skim to the parts that interest you.
Monday February 25th, 2013
The day started out with the hotel’s buffet breakfast. My stomach was feeling a bit better this morning, which meant I could eat, and also helped Jeremy out a bit, packing bags for his meeting, and listening to some of the talks. Unfortunately I couldn’t bear much due to feeling sick again, so during the first break, I headed back to our hotel room for a nap, only re-emerging to have lunch with Jeremy. Then I returned to our room to nap again, and use the Internet. I was too ill to join everyone for dinner, which wasn’t at the hotel, so I ordered room service instead.
Tuesday February 26th, 2013
Feeling a lot more reasonable today, I again joined Jeremy at the buffet breakfast. We got to try the chai masala, which I liked. I also met one of Jeremy’s colleagues, and his wife, Lois, who was tagging along like I had done. We decided we’d meet later to do some shopping together. I felt a bit nervous about wandering around Delhi on my own, as it hadn’t been long since the terrible gang rape on a bus incident, so I was glad to have met someone I could wander around with.
I used the Internet in my room until it was time to meet Lois again. We met in the lobby and then wandered over to Metro Walk to do some shopping. My first purchase was a pair of Levi jeans for US$20, which felt like an absolute bargain. I guess they’re cheaper in India because they’re made there. I also bought a couple of nice Indian outfits — kurtas, with matching pants and scarves; as well as shoes, and a few pairs of shorts. We headed back to the hotel to drop off the things we bought and share the buffet lunch conference guests were treated to, then headed back to Metro Walk for more shopping. I tried to buy some shirts for my sons, but for some reason my cards were declined.
For dinner, since I was feeling well enough (though I had a bit of a runny nose, so I packed a lot of tissues), I joined Jeremy for dinner with his conference colleagues. They took us on a couple of buses to some remote place, probably because it was being hosted by some government officials, and though there were fewer of them, it was easier for them to get to. It was another buffet dinner of Indian food, which was basically the norm for the majority of our meals in India.
During the bus rides, I spent my time reading Dark Matter by Brett Adams, since I had it on my phone, as well as consuming water to keep up the fluids I was losing from my nose.
On the trip back, we stopped at India gate, but it was blocked off by police, because it had recently been used as a place for protestors over the issue of rape laws and such. We were there for only a short period of time with the gate fully lit up, which wasn’t enough for everyone to get photographs, before the lights were switched off.
And then I ran out of tissues on the ride back to the hotel.
Wednesday February 27th, 2013
I didn’t sleep well, and was back to feeling sick and feverish. I went down for breakfast, but then napped all morning in my room, took a break to have lunch with Jeremy, and then napped for another hour. I had made plans to do more shopping with Lois, but they got put off due to my illness, until after this nap. This time we were also joined by Teresa from ACANN, a consumer organisation in Australia. Given Teresa and Lois were both Australian women, it was nice to have them around to talk to, because I could relate to them. I also learned that Teresa had been involved with the making of The Checkout, a consumer TV show in Australia, which I knew about because Julian Morrow had contacted Jeremy for information to include on it too. Then, a few weeks later when I was actually able to see the show, I saw Teresa on it! That was pretty cool.
Our shopping this time took place at another nearby shopping area called City Centre. Here I picked up some presents for my sons. Then it was back to the hotel. I spent some time reading Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton while I waited for Jeremy to come to our room. I had to then leave him there so he could attend a conference in Paris via the Internet, and headed downstairs to read some more. When it was time to head into the room for dinner, I saved Jeremy a place. He arrived just in time, because he was called up to the front to receive a gift! It was a special Indian picture, which all guests ended up receiving (though they weren’t all identical). After the Indian buffet dinner, we headed upstairs for internet and bed.
Thursday February 28th, 2013
My health really fluctuated on this trip, but I was feeling bit better again today. After the typical buffet breakfast start, I decided to take it easy. Normally when I’m on holiday, I spend too much time sightseeing, shopping, or both, and not really relaxing. So that’s what I did today. I read a good portion more of Pirate Latitudes, as well as watched two films on the movie channels available in my room – Abduction, which I’d wanted to see for a while, and I was amused at the fact the lead looked like my friend Cameron, and Whiteout, which I’d never heard of before, but enjoyed anyway.
I joined everyone for lunch and dinner again. This time, dinner was over at Metro Walk. Before the meal started, we were invited to some activities nearby, and participated in the funhouse mirrors, spinning gloom, spooky walk, and a 4D movie. Then we headed back to the restaurant for dinner. I enjoyed talking to some of Jeremy’s colleagues I had met over the week while we were there. Then it was back to the hotel for bed.
Friday March 1st, 2013
After breakfast, I inquired with the tour desk about booking a driver and tickets to see a live Bollywood show they were advertising there, but they wanted to charge us a lot more than we expected to pay, so I left it with Jeremy to deal with finding another way to organise it. I went back upstairs to pack everything we didn’t need again since we’d be leaving Sunday morning and it saved me the hassle of doing it later. Then I watched a bunch of Bollywood music clips on the TV, read, and napped.
After that, Jeremy joined me in the room, and I stayed quiet while excitedly listening to him being interviewed by Julian Morrow (the downloadable podcast can be found here). I’ve been a fan of the Chaser team for a long time, so even though I didn’t get to talk to Julian directly, it was pretty exciting that my husband had been contacted by him for a chat about consumer issues in the digital age, and that it aired on Australian radio.
Since today was the last day of the conference, there was a final lunch for everyone, and then we finished up early. Jeremy had organised a driver for us and booked tickets online so we could go out to the live Bollywood show I wanted to see.
The show was at a place called Kingdom of Dreams, which was a long drive away (closer to the airport) and our driver didn’t really know where to go – he had to keep stopping and asking other people for directions. Then, when we finally arrived to collect our tickets, we’d been informed they were already collected by someone else, and/or they didn’t have the proper details, and Jeremy’s reference didn’t help them. We had to wait a long time for them to try and sort it out, and in the end they let us go inside without the tickets just so we could have a look at the shopping area.
It was a bit like a small mall, separated into sections with stores and food outlets that represented different states of India. It was pretty interesting to look in all the stores and see the different types of souvenirs they sold. We picked up a few things for ourselves and gifts, then had a look at the food outlets to decide what to eat. We went with a couple of dishes called vadi pao and adai, which were both quite nice.
Finally after that, Jeremy headed back out to collect our tickets, which he was thankfully able to do, since it was just about time for the show to start. The show was called “Zangoora” and was entirely in an Indian language we couldn’t understand. Despite that, I was able to pick up on what most of the story was about through the acting and scenes. The songs and dancing were all pretty spectacular, too. During the intermission, Jeremy paid extra to get English headsets so we could actually understand through language what the rest of the show was about, and thankfully it was easy to pick up what was going on and who they were talking about from what I’d gleaned without the dialogue in the first half. I really, really thought the show was worth it and it was an absolute highlight. It was a little on the expensive side, but how often was I going to be in India to see something like that? Rarely, if ever again (we are headed back to India this month, but it’s to a different part of the country).
When the show ended and we returned the headsets, I had to give our driver a call so he knew it was time to collect us, and he took us back to the hotel. Before leaving him, though, we requested him to come collect us again in the morning, so we’d have someone who could take us around Delhi to see the sights we wanted to see, since we had such limited time to do that and it would’ve been faster than trying to find our way on our own (thereby limiting what we could see).
Saturday March 2nd, 2013
After breakfast, I spent the morning going through web sites and deciding which Delhi sights I wanted to visit most, then made a list. Our driver was a bit late to collect us, so we only left the hotel at around 9:50am. I gave the driver my list of sights, mentioning my preferences for “must-sees” and “if-we-have-time”, and then he scribbled out the best itinerary for us. Our first stop was the President’s house for some quick photos, and past India gate again, even though it wasn’t on my list (I guess we had to go past it anyway).
Our first stop where we were able to wander around was Humayun’s Tomb, which I guess you could say is somewhat similar to the Taj Mahal. It has fewer visitors, though, and is red in colour rather than white, but the architecture is similar and they’re both tombs. There are a few other structures on the grounds, though not kept in as well condition (though while we were there, some of it was undergoing reparations). I like visiting old archaeological sites, so it was a nice place for me to visit. Apparently there was also meant to be a music festival taking place there that night, but it didn’t look like anything was being done to properly set it up.
Our next stop was a small restaurant for lunch, where we were lucky to find a table. We shared butter chicken, vegetable rice, and onion nan.
After that, as we drove to the next place, and the traffic was really bad, we were literally driving around trees that grew in the middle of the road! Honestly, I have no idea why they didn’t cut them down and pave over them for the road. It was just so bizarre I had to mention it, because I’ve never seen anything like it. There wasn’t even a median strip for them, you could change lanes between them!
Next, we arrived at the Qutab Minar archaeological site, probably the place I was most interested in visiting in Delhi. You might be able to figure that out based on the fact I’m sharing so many pictures from there.
Qutab Minar is an old Muslim area, and most of the buildings and structures aren’t in the best condition, but it’s still really cool to see. It’s famous for having the world’s tallest brick minaret which is amazingly still standing. There are also remnants of another minaret that was meant to be even bigger, but I believe that one had never been completely constructed.
The mosque was still in pretty good condition, too. Exploring the whole area, looking at the various structures and design, was a great experience. I took a lot of photos here I loved it so much.
Next was the Lotus Temple, a place of worship built in 1986 for a religion known as Bahá’í. I’d never heard of it before, but they welcome people of all religions and races from around the world.
Whilst the outside of the building was a beautiful Lotus shape, the inside felt pretty bland in comparison. I guess I’d say it was similar to the bland Catholic and other Christian churches I’ve been in, except for the rounded shape. I don’t know that I needed to go inside. I don’t mean this as a disrespect of the religion. From what I read in the pamphlet they handed out, it sounded like they believe a lot of the things I believe, though I don’t consider myself religious. If I was looking to align myself with a religion, it might be one I’d look into further, but I’m not.
We didn’t have a whole lot of time left in the day before things closed, so I opted for our final stop to be the Red Fort. This was similar to Jaipur’s Amber Fort, except to get to the main part where tickets are collected, you have to walk through a strip of market souvenir stalls inside the walls of the fort. It wasn’t quite as big as the Amber Fort, but I still enjoyed wandering around the grounds and taking photos. If you only had time to visit Delhi, it would be a decent substitute, but if you had an option to visit one of the two, but not both, I’d recommend Amber Fort more.
We might have had time to visit another site for photos, but Jeremy wasn’t really feeling well now, so we had the driver take us back to the hotel, so we could have a bit of a nap before dinner.
Dinner ended up being McDonald’s, because Jeremy has a thing about trying the different burgers they have in the various countries he travels to. He still wasn’t feeling all that well when we were done, so we headed back to the hotel. I watched the film Chronicle before going to sleep, though I think Jeremy might have fallen asleep before the movie finished. He didn’t watch it with me, instead doing a bit of work on his computer before joining me in the bed.
I’m going to leave this entry here, because our final day basically consisted of us getting ready and heading to the airport to fly back to Malaysia, and there’s nothing of note to write about that.
Overall, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to go to India. I’m interested to see what Kerala is like later this month, when Jeremy and I fly into Kochi, just for a holiday this time. Kerala is the part of India Jeremy was most interested in seeing, so I’ll be letting him decide everything we do. I’m told it’s very different from the north, where we were on this trip. After the trip to Kerala, though, I don’t think I’ll be going back to India for a long time. The poverty I encountered was very confronting, and I felt helpless and sad to do anything about it. Then with how sick I got, if it happens again, India may end up getting the same feeling I have about the Philippines — I might have enjoyed the things I saw there, but I won’t go back again because it’s made me sick every time I’ve been. Still, I really enjoyed the sights I saw in India, and there were a lot of highlights. I could deal with my illness once for the sake of them, but now I’ve seen them, I don’t need to go again.