Continued from Delhi Day 2 Part 1.
I can really feel the heat beaming down onto me now. How are the locals still wearing so much clothes? I come from a place of hot climate, but I still can’t deal with hot weather like them.
It’s time to head to my next destination. I decided to look for either a auto rickshaw or a pedicab.
My pedicab guy was fearless. Here we are in the middle of the street, in the middle of traffic slicing and dicing with everything else around us. For some reason, I never felt unsafe. I think there is so much unexpected in driving here that everyone expects the next person to do something unpredictable so everyone is always prepared for plan B or C or D in case their first move doesn’t work out. This also applies when I am crossing a busy street. You cross knowing that all other vehicles around you know that you are willing to go or stop or change course and as are they because no one has the right of way.
I think these are lamb’s decapitated heads. I can see why so many Indians are vegetarians. I’ve been advised to eat a heavy vegetarian diet here, and that will lessen my chances of getting sick. I believe them.
I got dropped off at my destination. I had agreed to 30 INR with my pedicab when I got on. When he dropped me off, he said that it was 100 INR. I said, “NO MOTHERFUCKER, I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU!”. Actually, I just said, “No, we had agreed on 30.” At which point, I saw a small smirk on his face because he knew that I was right and he was a bad liar. Then I said “See, look, you’ve got a smile on your face because you know you lied. You can’t tell me 100 without a smile on your face.” I told him that I’d give him a 50(My smallest bill at the time) but that we had agreed on 30. He accepted with a bashful face and without a fight. 50 INR actually felt ok to me because it was a very long ride. This guy also didn’t speak English very well, so I felt like he probably doesn’t get as good of business as other pedicabs who spoke more fluent English and could cater to tourists.
I knew this was going to happen, but I was still apprehensive about it. I am going barefoot where millions have gone barefoot. Millions with less than stellar sanitary habits. Sigh…I guess I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. The shoes and the socks came off.
When I went up for a closer look at the building where some people were praying, a lady yelled at me for carrying my shoes. Apparently, not only am I supposed to take off my shoes, but I can’t carry it here around the prayer area.
I can see that the Muslim Indians are very conservative and xenophobic. They looked at me even more intently and oddly than the other Indians I see on the street. I can tell they don’t want to have anything to do with me. I had a hard time finding someone to take a photo for me. A lot of them refused me or just ignored me. I am not sure what part of me they didn’t like though. That I am not Muslim? Not Indian? Not White? I am Asian? Carry shoes? Long hair? Oh yeah, I also had on shorts, so they gave me a shawl to cover my legs. I can see how a lot of people here would look at my “skirt” and chuckle. It was almost as bad as if I had on a real skirt.
Up we go. The start of the climb actually isn’t at the base of the minaret, but rather at the gate where I entered the mosque. It was confusing at first when I couldn’t find where to start my climb. The first flight would take me to the top of the outer perimeter wall of Jama Masjid.
Taken from atop the outer wall. When I was about to enter the stairs, this guy and his girlfriend was about to enter the mosque grounds. He was furious that he had to pay the 200 INR “camera” charge. He pointed at all the other Indian locals here who were taking photos, and none of them had to pay the 200 INR “camera” charge.
While he was arguing with the door guy, his girlfriend asked me if I had paid the charge. I said yes, and told her that I looked at it de facto tariff on tourists and didn’t think more beyond that. At one point, the guy yelled at the doorman “This is not right. This is a place of worship(he was a tourist, and not a worshiper) and not of commercial interests. This is racism!”. That struck a chord with me. A white guy yelling at an Indian man(the door man was actually an asshole, to me and to everyone else, but that’s beside the point), who was obviously not well off about racism. While the white guy was technically correct that it was racism, I felt like a better term for this situation would be discrimination based on nationality.
Racism is a word that contains much more than just the color of our skin. It’s the color of our skin and everything else that comes along with the color of our skin. I just didn’t feel it was right for a man who has probably never experienced real racism to accuse someone else of racism. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Racism is something you know of only when you’ve experienced it. It’s like a woman telling a man that a man will never really know the discrimination that women have to deal with on a daily basis. I know my argument isn’t very well formulated, but I’ve got to keep up with the bloggin and not correct my essay about racism.
Anyhow, He made a big fuss, enough that the door guy told him to leave.
Safety is not their top priority. You literally walk along the perimeter wall with a just a short wall around you, then you hop over at the corner and there’s this small fence that prevents you from falling. I had to keep on pulling up on my shawl from tripping over myself.
Made it up another level. Now at the base of the minaret. I had to pay 20INR more at the base of the minaret for them to hold my shoes(me just putting them on the floor). They also checked to see if I had paid my camera “tariff” already. Good thing I kept my ticket.
The small space inside the minaret. It’s a two way street, and it’s very intimate when you have to cross traffic. As you can imagine, this stairway smells like…feet. Not the most pleasant feeling when you are stepping all over steps covered with feet smell.
Made it to the top after 121 steps! Again, no regard for safety. It’s very cramped up here, and one can easily just fall into the staircase from the top. I had to really watch my steps because I kept on stepping on my skirt.
I look sexy with my skirt. Some of the locals(well educated and I am guessing not Muslim because he’s here as a tourist too) asked if they could take a photo of me with my skirt. I agreed then asked him to take one for me as well with my camera.
Back at the base of the minaret. Look at how the line has grown! I waited in no line when I went up maybe 10 minutes ago, and now it’s got a line 20 people deep. This is probably a 20 minute wait. I am kicking ass today avoiding all the lines.
This is a different kind of “Cluster Fuck!”. There are no cars or auto rickshaws here, but there are people on top of people plus pedicabs plus motorcycles and mopeds. The motorcycles would come flying, honking through the sea of people. It was pure chaos.
Not when taste matters, but when health matters. I saw all the other people drinking water from a pitcher…they seemed healthy. My motto is to see what I want to see, then eat what I want to eat. I’ll try to play it safe with food as much as possible until I see my priority items in each city.
Frankly, the food was just OK. I was a little bit disappointed. But, at least it should have a lower chance of making me sick since it was such a busy restaurant with high food turnover rate.
I shared a table with this man. He complained to the waiters the whole time about his food. Then he struck up a conversation with me. Was surprised to see that I was traveling by myself. He said that he too was traveling by himself, and I could see that he wanted to hang out. He asked where I was staying and what my plans were for the rest of the day. I didn’t have a good feeling about him. Something was just, off. So I just diverted his questions as much as I could. He even followed me out of the restaurant after I paid and asked where I was headed. I told him I didn’t know and just casually walked away. That was weird…
This was way too cool. This is at the front of the restaurant. A guy would make flat bread dough, then he would put it on a round plate, and then reach into this pit(oven) and just slap the dough upside down on the walls where it would stick cook quickly.
I saw a couple of restaurants where all these people were squatting outside eating. They all looked to be very poor. They are not looking at me because I am taking a photo. They started looking at me earlier before I pulled out my camera because I am a foreign tourist. I’ve seen so few foreign tourists so far, even at the big tourist sites.
Soooo many people. I kept on walking, and the chaos kept on repeating. During my walk through here, which I am guessing took anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, I saw less than 5 foreign tourists. I really do stick out like a sore thumb in here.
Here’s a boy who had his ill relative, I am guessing father, laying on a wheeled platform begging for money. I took the photo as a curiosity, but when I came back to my hotel, and I saw the photo again on my laptop, I realized how removed I am from everything. This man is probably going to die soon(he looked very very ill), and here I am taking a photo of it only because I wanted the photo to remind me of what India is like. Is this what photo journalists covering atrocities feel like as well? I am not sure if I should be disgusted at myself.
I had a really hard time finding transportation around this area. I was pretty far from a metro station and it was around traffic hour where almost every cab or auto rickshaw was already in use. The metro station that I am trying to get to will take too long by pedicab.
The lines finally caught up to me. These are the lines to buy a subway ticket. I didn’t see any self use machines around. It wasn’t too bad, I waited maybe 10 minutes. Then when I gave the cashier a 100 INR bill, he tried to short change me 50! I got my changed and he started talking to the next person, I took one step to leave, and saw that I was way short. I yelled back through the window at him that he was cheating me, then he just very casually slipped a 50 through the hole in the window like he was going to give that to me anyway without protest. Motherfucker. Everyone here is trying to cheat you one way or another. But, I am on such high alert about it that it isn’t bothering me as much as I original thought.
I turned onto a street thinking that I would recognize something from earlier this morning that would trigger my memory. Nothing. I walked to another street, and another street, still nothing. I am lost. I am so close to home but I can’t find the last leg of the way home…AAAHHHHH!!!! I am so tired.
As I wandered around, lost, an older man walking around whistled at me. You know, the type of whistle where is he just greeting you. Yes, perhaps he could help me. I showed him the photo of my hotel on my camera, he thought about it for a second and told me to follow him. Took me through an alleyway, and then I saw the image below.
Sidenote. Everyone seems very surprised that I am traveling by myself in India. The hotel workers, the people I run into on the street all think so. I guess less people travel by themselves in India than say in Europe. Everyone’s like “Where are your friends? No friends?”.
I was down here in the internet area blogging, and the tv was on Bollywood award show or something. Everyone is very light skinned in Bollywood. None of them look like the great majority of dark skinned Indians.
To be continued at Delhi Day 3.