A Day in Dehli
There might be a haze from smoke in Delhi, but little pollution from vehicle exhaust. They use CNG – natural compressed gas, so no diesel odor. And believe me, we were in traffic a lot.
Temps feel pretty much like Miami and the vegetation would be familiar to South Floridians. There are a lot more green areas than I imagined, frangipani trees are blooming, and green parrots are just one of the many types of birds flying around. We haven’t seen cows, monkeys, or peacocks, just goats, ox, and lots of dogs. Dogs are everywhere, sleeping in the middle of sidewalks, most very much out in the open. No cats in sight. Apparently, people here think cats are demons. No wonder they thought it was odd when we said our husbands were home taking care of our cats.
I also expected odors to be more of an assault on my senses and they are not. At least not yet.
We began the day in Old Delhi at the imposing Red Fort. We walked into the Chandni Chowk Bazaar along with mobs of people and constant motion. Rickshaws, CNG-powered Three Wheelers, motorbikes, piles of goods on pushcarts, oxen pulled huge loads, old men with what must be more than their weight hoisted on their backs, and cars and trucks all vying for position. Shoppers and vendors mix with day laborers waiting for jobs whitewashing houses, and seasonal displays of colorful boxes and barrels of dried fruit and nuts ready to gift during the upcoming Diwali festival of lights.
The spice section of Khari Baoli was the most dramatic for me. Carefully maneuvering narrow alleys and passages, we saw more spices that I can name, but the abundance of chili peppers had an immediate impact on me, stinging my eyes fiercely. As soon as I stepped out of the area, I was back to normal.
Authentic Mughal food can also be found here – with several small eateries dating from the 18th century. Families own these spaces and even with the addition of electric burners, you can surmise it looks pretty much like it did generations ago.
We ventured deeper into the market by rickshaw and saw the Kinari Bazaar with its glittery wedding trims along with dozens of specialty shops – most very tiny.
We visited beautiful Humayan’s Tomb, said to have inspired the architecture of the Taj Mahal, and the site of Mahatma Gandhi’s funeral pyre at Raj Ghat. At sunset we watched an orange sun hover over the Qutub Minar (dating from 1199). In each case, grounds were beautiful and a quiet contrast from the busy city just a few steps away.
India has been the setting for many conquerors tearing down what They found and supplanting a new culture. When I asked our guide how locals felt about the British he explained, “You can’t fight with the history of the past, you have to look towards the future.”
I wish more people in the world shared that wise perspective.
It’s fun to people-watch and all day we enjoyed seeing local women still wearing traditional clothing. It’s all so pretty, fun, colorful, and individualized. No two are ever alike.
We weren’t finished with Delhi yet. We ended the day sharing both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian Chef’s Tasting Menus at India’s number one restaurant, Indian Accent. A real dining adventure by star chef Manish Mehrotra – we sampled 15 incredible dishes. Foodies take note, they have opened branches in London and New York.