Fun with Old Friends...
17.11.2012 - 18.11.2012
When Jardin and I parted ways at the Jodhpur airport, I headed to Dehli to go visit some friends from Sydney. My good friends Simar and Tarun, who I was introduced to by Jeff, my old roommate in Sydney, had moved back from Sydney to Dehli. Tarun's project had ended, and so he was transferred back. Simar, Tarun, Jeff, and the rest of the Sydney pack and I shared SO many memories together, from house parties to Tarun's birthday to outings to the Hard Rock, etc. We had had a blast in Sydney together, so it was so exciting to see them again. Simar and Tarun picked me up from where I stayed, and we headed out for a night on the town.
Dehli offerred a pretty lively nightlfe, but everything closed rather early, so we had to head to the Taj Hotel, which was the only place still open and also where everyone goes to carry on after all of the nightclubs close at 11pm.
Here we are posing in the entrance way to the amazing Taj Hotel
The next day, I met up with Akshay, a friend of mine from Darden, for lunch. It was fantastic to see Akshay since it had been about a year and a half since I had seen him. He started a new restaurant chain in India: the Indian version of Chipotle, called Picante. Things seem to be going well for him, which was great to hear.
Later on that day, I took the metro, which is really advanced by the way, to downtown Dehli to visit the Red Fort. I walked down the street and noticed something that had really impressed me in Mumbai: the mere concentration of people. It was unreal to walk down the street and avoid getting run over by a rickshaw, a bicycle, car, person, or cow...
Because there had been a lot of break-ins, the Dehli police put up barriers in the roads, thinking that if cars had to slow down enough to move around the barrier, they would be unlikely to rob a house on that particular street. That logic didn't really pan out too well though, to my knowledge.
Here is the Red Fort, which was built by Shah Jahan and served as the residence of Mughal Emperors.
The Entrance Gate
As I walked around the grounds, I was approached multiple times as I was at the Gateway to India by Indians from rural areas who wanted to take a picture with me. I got in the habit of saying, "Just one" so that I'd take a photo but then be able to move on. This gentleman with a whole family behind him came up to me and asked for a photo. I suppose since I was traveling alone, I was more approachable. I told him that I'd be willing to take one. Before I knew what was happening, the man thrust his baby into my arms. I awkwardly posed, but then all of a sudden a thought came into my head and I decided to chat with the infant and make it giggle for the photo. As cheeky as it may sound, I thought, "What would Princess Diana do?" Of course she would be the one playing with the child, etc. so that's exactly what I did!
Didn't your mother ever tell you it's not polite to stare?
Old Indian Woman on a Cell Phone
As I left the Red Fort, I headed back to the metro. Before I got to Dehli, a lot of South Indians had warned me about the dangers of North India. They explained that I needed to cover my shoulders pretty much all the time, and that I needed to downplay my sex appeal as much as possible, because, as they put it, "North Indians are different." Some said that men in Dehli are sexually repressed; after all, there are higher incedences of rape in Dehli than in other parts of the country. Regardless of their opinions, the fact of the matter is that I did need to be more covered and mind my ps and qs around men, especially as a single female traveling alone. Especially being white, too, I was already attracting a lot of stares, and in this part of the country, it was better to be more cautious.
In any case, as I was walking to the train station, I felt someone squeeze my butt. I played it off as if I didn't notice, giving whoever it was the benefit of the doubt that maybe it was an accidental butt-squeeze (if that exists), but then I noticed the guy following me. When I got in line to buy my ticket at the metro, he got in line right behind me. I saw a family of a mother, father, and 2 grown daughters in the other line, so I decided to switch lines and start a conversation with them. Not only was it cool to chat with the family (the eldest daughter I I spoke french since she was learning french at university), but it also provided me with a security net to get away from that guy. To the metro's credit, they do have women only cars, which is far less crowded and a sure better way to travel where I am not stared at the entire time. It also would have been an alternative to getting away from that guy. I mean, I love a man ogling over me as much as the next woman, but not in a creepy, predatory way. Thanks, but no thanks, crazy!
Later on that night, Simar and Tarun took me to meet one of their friends and we went to the mall in Dehli. The mall surprised me how nice it was! It really reminded me of Tyson's Corner, with multiple levels of great stores.
We had the most delicious dinner. Since I had been forbidden from eating the street food (unless I wanted to get sick), we had street food at the mall made with purified water, and it was amazing!! The kebabs were fantastic as well!