It has now been over a month since I’ve written on my blog so my memory’s a litttttle fuzzy. Current status is home in Los Angeles, waiting (dreading) to go back to school in two days. I don’t even have a full week to relax before I start spring term.
Ok let’s not ponder too much about the current right now. I have a mission. My Delhi trip–the last trip with my class. The much awaited trip to the capital city. The one that began the countdown of the days we had left in this beautiful country.
I’ll split this trip into two separate blog posts: one for our two days in Delhi and the other dedicated to Agra.
Our first touristy thing in New Delhi was to visit the Jama Masjid. After picking up our tour guide for the trip and enjoying some North Indian cuisine, we boarded our bus and drove as far as the streets would allow a huge four-wheeler. At that point, we paired off into twos and took (man-powered, not automated) rickshaws to the Jama Masjid, located in the Old City. The rides reminded me of my last time in Bangladesh six years ago, when you would see more men pedaling families across the streets than you would see automobiles or motorbikes. I remember sympathizing with these men and admiring their perseverance for pushing entire families with their legs day after day. Actually, the first time I saw any automated rickshaw in Bangladesh was during a trip to a village, which also had much nicer and cleaner roads than the city.
We arrived at the Jama Masjid and had to put on these mortifyingly colorful gowns that made our status as foreigners even more conspicuous. I would say that we had all dressed moderately conservative enough for this religious site. What a sight we must have been—a group of twenty maxi-dress-clad bodies, a bright beacon of tourism. We provided a nice background for some bold locals who came near us to take selfies. We weren’t “allowed” to take pictures, so we couldn’t start a selfie war. We, rather, wandered around the area barefoot. There were several signs that prohibited “unaccompanied” women and children from walking up to the towers. (!!!) Which was a little annoying for us. We didn’t spent too much time here though, so whatever.
We then went on our way to Humayun’s Tomb, which is often called the Baby Taj but is more like the Granddaddy Taj. Emperor Shah Jahan based his model of the Taj Mahal on Humayun’s Tomb (talk about plagiarism). As its name implies, the structure holds the tomb of the Mughal emperor Humayun. It was commissioned by Bega Begum, his first wife, and later provided space for the graves of other family members. It kind of had a similar love story history to the Taj. Bega Begum had been so grieved by her spouse’s death that she dedicated the rest of her life to overseeing the construction of the most magnificent mausoleum in the Mughal Empire. She paid for the entire thing herself.
The Tomb was the first of its kind in Mughal architecture–never before was red sandstone used at such a large scale. Outside it looks simple and symmetrical. But its interiors have a complicated design, with multiple inner chambers. We spent more time here than the Jama Masjid, walking around the structure, the surrounding gardens, marveling at the amazing architecture and the color schemes. Took a bunch of pictures. As we were headed back to our meeting point, I went in a different direction to get a good angle of the Tomb with the setting sun as a backdrop. A security guard approached me and I thought he asked me if I wanted a picture with the Tomb in the background. But it turned out that he knew the secrets to good photography and took a picture for me of the Tomb and its reflection. The product:
Somehow I-India–the tour company that had planned for all our adventure–forgot to include dinner into our day. So they wrote “on your own” leaving us with very few options in a city we hardly knew. So many of us went to the rooftop restaurant in the hotel to eat–after enduring a painful lecture on history we had already read about prior to the program. Our hotel itself was 5-star yet provided no free wi-fi. What???? We didn’t need 5-star!! We DID need internet. Poor planning! It was kinda horrible, actually. We had a dinner limit that we were going to be reimbursed for but the expensive dining at the hotel made it difficult.
The next day we saw some government buildings. Tbh, I forgot their names but here are pics.
We also went to the Gandhi Museum, which was cool–other than the fact that our tour guide was a lil racist. One of our classmates complicated Gandhi’s legacy with a reference to his partisanship to the upper castes and our tour guide replied with a (blatantly) racist comment–unrelated to the initial comment itself. And this is not to mention his constant mansplaining for the three/four days he was with us
In all honesty, I didn’t like New Delhi all that much. Out of our three group trips, it was my least favorite–partially because of our tour guide, partially because of our no wifi situation, partially because I didn’t get to do anything for the 7 hour free time we had on one of the days. Idk, I just didn’t feel Delhi. That’s not to say that I regret it though. There were some highlights from the weekend (such as the Taj). I just wish we had more agency before the planning was done. I wish the planning wasn’t done completely by the tour agency. And I really wish our professor had called out our biased and patriotic tour guide during his spiels.
In case this blog seemed a little bit downcast (I swear I didn’t intend to!) the next one will be about the TAJ MAHAL!!