Mesmerizing India – New Delhi

We had gotten up early in the morning – 5’ish – due to jet lag and finished readying up. Breakfast at the Courtyard’s Momo cafe was excellent to say the least.There was a flurry of waiters and staff moving around trying to help guests. After a very LONG time, we could order dosa and idli for breakfast. The food was yummy and gave a hint at things we had been missing all along.

Our ride was to come in at 9:30 AM so we had plenty of time still. The strands-ful chandeliers at the huge lounge is hard to miss attention. The place is attended to well with some nice touches like fresh locally grown flowers. We decided to explore the pool area. The pool is at a higher level than street and is relatively free of noise. The water flows out off the edge. There was no one at the pool except two attendants who were bent on cleaning up. I wondered what they were cleaning so diligently with so little usage, but I probably didn’t know better. A steady stream of pigeons would descend on the pool edge in a constant attempt to cool themselves off. It almost appeared that the hotel had the pool for the pigeon’s exclusive use!!

We always think of a guide when on a visit. A guide gives you lot more information and makes your visit interesting than just a visual impact. The concierge recommended one and he was supposed to meet us at a place that our driver knew. Mr. Singh arrived sharply at the promised time and we were off exploring Delhi.

The first thing that strikes you once you are on Indian roads is the sharing of space by vehicles, humans and animals to a lesser degree. People are constant on the side-walks and even crossing the streets. Mr. Singh was an expert driver – no doubt and he meandered through the streets with absolute calm. Our guide – Tarun – made an impression right after he hopped onto the car. He was a Master’s degree holder in History. He had taken up being a guide after a brief stint in IT, with the industry now being affected by the downturn in the western world. Once I introduced myself and said I worked in the technology area, he rattled off a list of programming languages, etc that he had worked on. No one I knew of who worked in IT in India had been laid off and so I took his credentials with a grain of salt.

Our first stop was Jama Masjid. This is the star mosque for Delhi. It was built starting around 1650 AD over a period of five years by 5000 workers by Emperor Shah Jahan, who is more famous for building the Taj Mahal. As is typical of many monuments in India, the place isn’t very visitor friendly. Information boards are non-existent. You see locals prying for your attention to act as a guide. Shorts aren’t acceptable and hence I and Vikas had to wear some sort of dhoti. Women need to cover themselves in a gown sort of clothing. The Jama Masjid didn’t make any impact on me and I was looking forward to getting back to our car. What could have been an imposing center for information and attraction had taken a back seat.

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