To India with Sofie: Day 2

Sunday September 2, 2012

Delhi, .. yesterday we got a lift from the airport to a room somewhere in C.R. Park, but this happened around midnight, so we didn’t get to see anything of the city. Sleep came late. A 3.5 hour jet-lag is not that difficult to cope with, but when you go to bed by 2.30 local time, and you are not used yet to sleeping at 30 degrees C, and by 6am light and life around you wakes you up, then, yes, there is a jet-lag. So we went to bed again and slept till past 10am.

After european breakfast, our friend and guide, Thinlay hired a taxi to take us to Majnu Ka Tilla, one of many settlements inside the area called (New) Delhi.

Delhi is a big city, but in my eyes, it is not so big. European cities are very concentrated places, and they have a sphere of influence around them. Delhi has a concentrated historical city but the entire sphere of influence around it is just called Dehli. The conurbation is loosely build around the old center. When driving to Majnu Tilla, I did barely see residential areas. We passed a power station, at least three sports stadions, a large park including a stupa, and a bus-station to the north. The 3/4/5 lane highways are used by too many slow vehicles, making it dangerous to drive if you have learned to drive in western europe.

It is impossible for me not to compare Delhi with Lagos. I was more than a couple of times in Lagos in the 20th century, and there are many similarities between these two cities … maybe it has to do with the former british empire putting its stamp on both of them. But then there are also so many dissimilarities. It has something to do with street furniture, molded concrete buildings, the way the road is (ab)used, the way public announcements are placed on the road side, …. and many other things i cannot exactly pinpoint. Caracas or Paramaribo, both also developing cities, do not share any of those similarities.

Our driver dropped us on a smelly and dirty road side taxi waiting ground. Sofie noticed 2 dressed up monkeys. Monkeys seem to be everywhere in India, even in its capital city.

At first sight Majnu Tilla, south of the Yamuna river, appears to be two settlements: one tibetan and the other sikh There might be other communities living in Majnu Tilla too, but i’m a newbie here and did not notice them.

The sikhs have a beautiful temple, certainly worth visiting. I know close to nothing about this religion, so look at for some background.

The people we met at the temple were delighted to have us around. We had to remove our shoes, and wash our feet by walking through a 10cm deep pool. To go inside we needed to have our head covered, but ‘coverage’ is available in front of the temple. On this picture, Thinlay really looks like a pirate.

The temple itself is made of white marble.

We have this tibetan connection, so we went to the tibetan settlement to have lunch and exchange some money.

On a sunday afternoon, changing money is not easy. Sunday is not a working day in India. A couple of restaurants were also closed, and we got an exchange rate corrected downwards to what should be expected 🙂 on monday.

We also made first contact with professional indian beggars. Difficult to shake off, they kept following us for at least 500m. But then, you don’t see so often a european man with his 5 y.o. daughter in this part of Delhi.

On the way to the rest room of a tibetan restaurant, we saw a guy with a blue face, smiling eyes wide open and wearing a golden crown, peeping through the front door and gesticulating at us like a clown.

The indian God Vishnu (or was it his incarnation Krishna) kept laughing at us. My daughter told me he had 4 arms, which could move independently from each other. His sight is still following me long after writing this diary. Only the two of us saw him, but then, India has many secrets and stories, so perhaps what we perceived was a funny divine inter-dimensional encounter.


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