Saturday, January 23, 2010

So.... Cold..... - Delhi, National Capital Territory

After three weeks back home in Canada I wasn't sure if I was to continue my travels in India. Not wanting to stay in Vancouver (homeless and jobless) or go back to India, I boarded the first in yet another string of flights. I have now been on fifteen flights in three months. I think I may walk home in June. On the way home to Canada and back to India, I had a day layover in Bangkok which was a nice way to break up the traveling. The food is so good in Bangkok!

It was great to see my three chums again. I truly missed them while I was away. What I hadn't anticipated was how cold the north was this time of year. It was five degrees when I landed in Delhi. That doesn't sound that cold, but when there is no heat in any of the buildings, it is like you are sleeping outside. I went to bed fully clothed with two blankets and a toque. The winter has been unseasonably cold this year and has even taken the lives of five hundred people thus far. It is a common sight to see people huddled around a fire on the side of the street trying to stay warm.

Delhi is everything you would expect from a big Indian city, crowded, annoying, fascinating, and exhilarating. At first all of Delhis quirks annoyed me and I though to myself, why would I come back here? But was surprised as to how quickly I acclimatized to life in India and even enjoyed it.

Even after three months of traveling in India, it never fails to surprise me. As I was sitting outside a book store having a glass of chai watching street life transpire, an elephant strolled by, down the narrow roadway. There was no parade, celebration or puja (prayer) as in previous sightings, just some dude riding an elephant. I quickly snapped a photo of the elephant thinking I'd never see something like that again, only to have another elephant go by five minutes later. Must have been a race.

With only a couple of days in Delhi, I decide to do some sight seeing and headed off to Humayun's Tomb. It is Delhi's first mausoleum, considered one of the prototypes to the Taj Mahal, and houses the second Mughal emperor Humayun and his family (150 in total). Constructed out of red sandstone, it adopts Aphgan, Hindu and Persian architecture. The mausoleum was commissioned by Humayun's widow nine years after his death and took eleven more to complete. Wanting the mausoleum to be one of a kind, Humayan's widow had the architect executed as not to have his design duplicated. I don't think that was the bonus he was expecting.

During the Partition of India it housed Muslim refugees on their way to Pakistan. The extent of the damage done by the refugees was severe and restoration continues to this day. Evidence of this can be seen on the ceiling and entrance of one of the mosques. The ceiling is charred and black from the fires used for cooking and much of the inlay work is also missing or damaged. Many of India's monuments are unfortunately in a constant state of disrepair.

"If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool..."
William E. Gladstone

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