Sunday, March 6, 2011

India - Part I

INDIA!!! We could not believe we are in India, landed in New Delhi and are beyond ecstatic. The first part of our journey home is a six day layover in New Delhi. We went through the airport wondering what great and interesting adventures were to unfold. We had contacted our hotel and arranged for a pickup. When we exited immigration and customs the driver was not there. Our flight had arrived a little early so we waited for about 15 minutes until we became a little antsy. We asked an airport worker to call our driver and then sure enough there he was. He was a nice man, shorter, and quite skinny. He grabbed our kart of bags and we were off. He was power walking so fast. Latanya and I felt like we were working off all the airplane dinner calories. I just knew his walking speed was going to translate into his driving speed, and sure enough it did. Luckily we made it to our hotel safe and sound. It was about 9pm and we were tired, met the owners of our hotel and then crashed. The Tree of Life hotel is fantastic, clean, modern, and it even has a big white fluffy down comforter that makes you melt when you crawl into bed.
The next morning was spent having breakfast downstairs and attempting to arrange our train to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. After a few hours of frustration the manager called a friend to book the tickets for us. We were happy about that yet a little worried because the trip was not finalized yet. After getting ready we decided to hit the streets.
We took a deep breathe and made our way knowing the streets of India were about to be an experience. Though we knew all this, we really knew nothing. We exited our hotel making our way to the subway. The map we were given was easy to follow and the station was about a three minute walk away. Our area seemed a little run down but in reality it was a nice area. The buildings were newer yet the streets we a mess.
Our destination was Old Delhi. The hotel manager told us about a great restaurant in Old Delhi that is a must see. When we arrived in Old Delhi we stepped out side of the station our jaws dropped. Pure chaos on the streets, pure madness, really. Rickshaws were everywhere, cars and motorbikes honking, people lying on the sidewalks, dust in the air from the roads, wires slung from building to building, random smells not for the weak stomached and so much more. We needed to walk about a mile to the restaurant. Luckily I have a natural gift for direction and lead us the right way. The lack of street signs or any landmark made it difficult.
While heading down a crowded and congested road we witnessed a motorbike accident. A man who fell off his bike promptly stood up and approached the driver at fault. He then proceeded to slap the man at fault not one or two times, but five times in the face. All of a sudden a rush of people came to watch the confrontation. The man at fault ended up just taking the slaps and did nothing but argue verbally. It was quite a scene. Actually because of this incident everyone stopped staring at Latanya and I for at least a minute or two. This was a nice moment, though it was short lived.
We spotted a landmark, the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. We walked around the extremely crowed streets and found Gate 1. From there we spotted the restaurant, Karim's. Karim's is located down a narrow alley and full of people. The restaurant has been open since 1913 and we know why, it was delicious. We tried the recommendations our hotel manager gave us and we so delighted. We had the Chicken Noorjahani, Seekh Kebabs and two Tandoori Rotis. Everything was just great. Latanya is taking to the take charge persona here in India. She did not hesitate to grab a table even though others were there before us. You kind of have to have an aggressive attitude, otherwise you wouldn't accomplish anything. After lunch we went back to the crazy streets. We walked through what seemed for miles of a street market. People were selling clothes, shoes, toys and so much more. It was a mad house. Latanya began to get claustrophobic. Luckily we made it to the Red Fort and got away from the crowds. From there we walked to a park just southeast of the fort. We saw Ghandi's grave, memorial site, and the Ghandi Museum. From there we grabbed a motor rickshaw back to the subway and made our way back to our hotel. Before we went to our place we grabbed a Kingfisher at a local bar and then cruised around our neighborhood. Overall it was an exciting day. It was packed full of so much. India is definitely a different experience. Well, tomorrow we will check out some more of the city this time more of New Delhi.

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