Travel: Day 7

1

28/08/2013 by Siddiqui Fayesal

We reached Delhi around late evening and all but sprinted to a cab to get as close to air conditioning as possible. Summer in India is something that can be totally missed. It’s hot. A temperature of 40 degrees (Celsius, not Fahrenheit. The only time we Indians use Fahrenheit is when we’re checking for fever. Weird, right? Why not stick to Celsius?)

Anyway that’s how the first day in Delhi was spent. Lying in the room as if it would help the next day if we absorbed an inordinate amount of cool dry air conditioned air. Like how I’ve mentioned my father was a time controlling machine my mother is a medical wonder. She feels hot and cold in quick repetition. Such quick ones that if she’s feeling hot at “super” she’d definitely be feeling cold by the time she reaches “man”!

But enough about the previous day. Day 7 was a direct result of my dad’s desire to experience The Jama Masjid again, to measure the circumference of the Qutub Minar by walking around it, to get lost in the beauty of the Lal Quila (The Red Fort) and to imagine the splendours of the era gone by.

If only Delhi wasn’t so hot. If only. Then I would’ve appreciated the day like my dad. But the heat pisses me off! A lot.

We didn’t go to every attraction in Delhi, which is ok since we’ve been there many times anyway, but we did hit the above mentioned 3 places. Delhi, my friends, is a place dripping with history. If only the locals didn’t give it such a bad name! A little known fact that my dad told me a few years back really got me thinking about how well the history of the monuments have been documented. He told me that when Shah Jahan planned the Lal Quila he made sure that the platform of his throne was lower than the plinth of the Jama Masjid where the prayers were conducted; out of sheer respect for the prayer hall of the grand mosque. I know Shah Jahan has received a lot of flak for all the hype around The Taj and the “other” Taj but this is not a post to dilly dally on those aspects. Not now, at least!

Couplets from The Quran Inscribed on the pillars

Couplets from The Quran Inscribed on the pillars

The Qutub Minar opens up new tit bits every time I go there. Maybe I never kept an eye out for detail. Perhaps the only time I could have taken all the time to look around was when I was in Delhi around 5 years back. I was alone; I lived in 2 different lodges in a span of 3 days and did a semi Forrest Gump (I walked instead of running). But due to lack of time and lack of resources I skipped it all together hence missing out on the chance to go through it with a fine toothed comb. I still am NOT claiming that I know my history well. I know nothing. I’m just saying that earlier I didn’t even try.

Qutub  Minar

Qutub Minar

Anyway, the Qutub Complex is huge. It was built, I found out, on closer inspection on the ruins of another structure which was definitely a non Islamic structure. I could see the faces of the tiny stoney figures broken or hacked. I suppose it would be a temple. I wiki’d it on my return and found out that I wasn’t exactly wrong. (Read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qutub_minar)

We, for the first time ever, took the Delhi bus (famous for running over people out of pathetic disregard for lives) from Qutub Minar to Lal Quila or, as the world knows it, The Red Fort. I came face to face with a group of middle aged white women who were fighting (arguing, actually) with the staff at the entry counter. I can understand their plight and the reason for complaint. I too think it is rather unfair to charge them 25 times what they charge Indians. I had always thought that foreign tourists would be ok with it. Now when I sit back and retrospect I call myself weird unprintable names.

Why would it be ok? Why SHOULD it be ok? I’d be pissed if I’m charged extra just because I spent a fortune and visited your country and realise that I’ve got to pay extra for every bit of architectural wonder I clap my eyes on! They were charging them 250 bucks while I was charged a measly 10. I need someone to sell this idea to me that it’s ok. I don’t think it is… all ye folks not hailing from the sub-continent who read my stuff, please give me your 2 pence!

The Red Fort

The Red Fort

Anyway, the bus ride was an hour’s crawl from Qutub Minar and I was in no mood to get excited. Lal Quila, like always, mesmerized me nonetheless. You can see it from afar. From a kilometre away. From the Jama Masjid.

Well, here it is. (I had my Camera stowed away while in the Mosque. No photo’s here either.)

I did no sort of pleasure walk here. Instead, I went inside the museum. Once I was done I wondered why I never did it earlier. After being to Lal Quila thrice, I never bothered about the museum. Usually I am interested in such things. Museums have always interested me. On my last visit to Delhi with a couple of friends I opted to go to Purana Quila (Old Fort) instead of going to Qutub Minar. I spent more than an hour there alone walking the jagged platforms and the narrow arches. I was even threatened by the Army’s watch dog for coming inside an on-going excavation site. Thankfully, I didn’t react like a baboon and started running away. I just showed my hand to the security and walked backwards till the loony dog cooled down. The security gave me a thumbs up. There is no reason apart from assuming that the crowd put me off at the museum’s entrance. Not a valid excuse but still. If only I could take pictures.

They didn’t allow photography inside. Idiots!

Red Fort

Red Fort

The museum held the freedom struggle’s plethora of information on display. It was a very good experience. If only they allowed photography. Sigh! One of the most interesting things that I saw there was the “REAL” diary that Subhash Chandra Bose kept. It was like a mini journal. Of course, we weren’t allowed to read it, but what the hell man, it was fabulous. The real thing, I tell you! They even had on display his license and other knick-knacks which made me go all jello from the inside. The museum, I can say without a shadow of doubt was the best part about the Delhi visit!

There was something about this visit that I was awaiting with delight and almost manic impatience. Food. Many had told me about Karim’s. I had heard it from many of my friends and I later found out that the cook is apparently the descendent of the Shahi Darbar (or, the Royal Court). I won’t stress on it too much because it was their menu which said it in proud letters. I’m going to keep the Karim story for later.

The day, blistering hot and irritatingly sweaty that it was, ended with a sigh of happiness. The Red Fort and The Jama Masjid does that to you!

More of it later. This post has already breached the limit of normally accepted word counts.

Phew!

Siddiqui F.
(05.06.2013)

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