Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 4: Historical Sites, Markets, and Sweet Treats

I slept until 5am today! Yay? And I was able to sleep some more after that too.
     Today was full of more sightseeing in Old Delhi, which is very different from New Delhi.  We were going to stop first at the India Gate, which is a giant arch built in memorial of those who lost their lives in one of the wars.  We couldnt park and get out, though, because it was closed so preparations could be made for Republic Day. We did get to drive by and see it and take pictures.

    The first actual stop was at the Red Fort.  The Red Fort was built by the Moghuls after they took over India, and was the seat of the emperor.  The British took it over a few hundred years ago and made a few additions but it is still largely preserved.  ****If my history is not 100% accurate, I am sorry; I'm trying to remember to the best of my ability what I was told****  The Red Fort was huge, and there was a lot to walk around and look at. There was even a museum at one end with artifacts such as clothing and weapons and hookah pipes.

      From the Red Fort, we walked through the crazy Old Delhi market to the Jama Mosque.  Foreigners had to pay to get in (a common thing here. example: 10 rupees for an Indian to go in Rajghat, but 250 for us).  I did not go in, but I sat outside with some of the girls who also didnt want to pay. Apparently we are celebrities in India, because EVERYONE wanted to take pictures of us and with us. There was a ridiculous swarm, and we finally had to say no because more and more people kept walking over.  Inside the mosque, the 3 girls that went in said it was even worse for them; as soon as they entered, a lot of people who were praying got up and swarmed them too.

      We left the mosque and walked through more crazy Delhi markets.  Let me paint you a picture of Old Delhi: Imagine New York City. Now double the amount of people. Add in a ton of dogs, some cows, and some goats.  Take away most traffic rules. Honk at everything. Add some pretty terrible smells. And try not to question the various substances you're walking on.  There you go.  We almost died trying to cross this crazy intersection, but we made it.

    We got back to the cars through the market and were driven to Raj Ghat.  Raj Ghat is the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi.  A flame burns there always, and the actual site is roped off as holy ground. We had to remove our shoes before walking into the courtyard.  I think the cremation sites of Prime Mininster Indira Gandhi and 2 others are also somewhere near.

     Upon returning to the hostel, our female host Sarita took us down to a new market.  Before the market, though, we stopped at a Hindu temple so she could pray.  She took us through the steps with her: Shoes are removed before entering the temple. You first ring a bell, then kneel and pray at the altar of Hanuman. You walk to the left around the statue then follow the little path to a larger altar containing statues of multiple gods where you also kneel and pray.  Then you walk back to the large Hanuman statue to kneel and pray one last time.  You then go to the right of the statue where a man dips out water into your hands.  You drink the water and wipe the rest on your head. Then you ring all 4 bells and walk out the exit.  You dont have to do the next part, but we walked down to the pool behind the temple to look at the fish.  Sarita told us that fish take on your troubles; when something bad is happening, you go feed the fish at the temple and all your worries and troubles will be put on the fish so you no longer have to bear them.
 From the temple we went to the market to the shop where her mother works. Her mother's shop sells saris, punjabis, and does alterations and sewing work.  I brought my sari so she could take my measurements and sew my blouse.  Then we walked around the new market for a few minutes.  We came across a bakery/dessert shop so bought a mixture of treats that looked good to try later.  Outside the shop was a food vendor making what we would soon discover is one of the most delicious things ever: jalebi.
The vendor said it was 150 rupees for a kilogram, so we naively bought a whole kilo. FYI: a kilo is A LOT of jalebi! Jalebi is dough piped out in swirly shapes into hot frying oil (like funnel cake), then after it gets golden brown it is dropped into a vat of simple syrup where the crispy dough soaks it up.  Soooooo good.
I also bought some kiwi, apples, and a pineapple from a fruit stand.  Sarita picked us up from this market then took us down to another market so some of the girls could buy Hindi music like we hear on the radio.  This market was nicer than some of the others we had been to.
     Dinner was served when we got back to the house, then we dove into the box of sweets! They were all very different from American treats, but some of them were pretty good. There was one of all coconut, 2 with cardamom and nutmeg and spices, 2 were soaked in another kind of syrup, and one looked like fudge but kind of tasted like shortbread and was more dry.  We have no idea what any of it is called of course.
    Now it is time for bed

Much love,

1 comment:

  1. Wow it sounds wonderful! I can't wait to see pictures of you in your sari. Living the history lessons that are accompanying your blog. I do have one question for your about the laptop with the red cover you left in the box at the house. What is wrong with it and can I get it repaired and use it? It would be nice to be able to not be tied to the desk and to be able to be on the computer even when Dad is on there as well. Keep the posts coming and let me know if I need anything. Everybody here sends their love and well wishes. Take care and I love you. Mom.