MiscSouth Asia

Red Fort & Jama Masjid

posted by Stu 3 Comments


After a hefty 12 hour sleep we decided that we would head for a few of Delhi’s supposedly best sites.
It was the hottest day any of us had ever experienced at a brutal 47 degrees – And believe me we felt it. The kids were coating in factor fifty and the sun hats on. Within about 5 minutes Charlie was moaning about how he was covered in sweat, his top was drenched like he had just been under a shower and his face dripping literally in sweat. He claimed his hat was making him worse, I explained that whilst his hat was contributing to him sweating we could do something about that by keeping drinking water. If he took his hat off he risked sunstroke and we couldn’t really do much about that. Unconvinced he got on with things.
We started off at the Red Fort which was built before the world was created; we got the usual touts which in such heat became very boring very quickly.
It is worth pointing out that in India there are specific archaeological sites and also UNESCO heritage sights that charge a common fee – 250 Rupees (about £2.50) for adults and kids are free. Locals pay 10 Rupees.
In trying to take some of the glory of the Taj Mahal the Red Fort recons that the Taj Mahal is the Red Fort all rolled into one. I couldn’t see it myself, but it was certainly beautiful and a welcomed break from the hectic Delhi streets.
The kids drew loads of attention as per usual and many people want to speak to us, or oddly touch the kids’ ears and take photographs.
The heat really dictated things and was energy sapping in a way I can’t describe. Nonetheless we walked round the Red Fort and then headed toward our next destination – Jama Masjid.

Jama Masgid is a huge mosque and supposedly the biggest in the whole of India. I have to say from the outside it didn’t really look that impressive, no doubt it is big, but it didn’t jump out and say “look how beautiful I am” Anyway after a ridiculously arduous walk of about a mile through markets and bazaars and heat which was really slowing us down we arrived. We were blown out by the guard at the entrance who said that it was only open to visitors from 2pm. We had an hour’s wait. We walked into a huge bazaar and started looking round. It was apparent in time that there was nothing you could not buy there. I was amazed to see traders selling Rolex watches on a market stall without security and perplexed as to why the guy who had stock of about £100,000 worth of Oakley sunglasses looked like he hadn’t eaten since 1999, about the same time he last had a wash.

Abi asked if she could try some street food, basically there is loads of it around and an added bonus is that not only do you get ripped off paying 10 times what the locals pay you also get the famous Delhi belly. I found a guy toasting Corn on the Cob on hot coals and figured this was probably the tamer street food. I had him re toast it to kill any germs since it had probably been sat for a while. Wrapped in its own leaves it was actually very nice. Charlie didn’t like it but Abi and I loved it, and for only 10 Rupees (about 15pence) it was all the better.
While eating that I felt someone tug at my trouser pocket and spun round to grab a guys arm. He had a kid with him and the kid was laughing. I said to the guy “Nice try” he made out he didn’t know what I was talking about; clearly it was the kid and not him. I let go and they both walked off laughing.
They didn’t manage to get my wallet since my pocket is buttoned twice. Even if they had managed to rob it I am not stupid enough to keep anything other than a few hundred Rupees in it. All the cards/large notes are kept somewhere safer. Still in all the travelling I have ever done that was the first time (I’m aware of) that I have been attempted pick pocketed.
At 2pm we went to the mosque and climbed the stairs. As we were walking up I could see the collection of guys and kids subtly planning to rip us off by pointing and laughing. Undeterred we got to the top and about 5 people told us to take off our shoes. I expected that since it is customary to do so. But I had a bad feeling, it was too obvious. We were either going to get our shoes robbed or we would have them cleaned whilst absent for a ridiculous fee. I declined and we walked back down the stairs without visiting the mosque.

On our walk back to the main road for a Rickshaw I finally noticed why parts of Delhi stink of piss. And I’m not joking; randomly you will get a strong stench of urine. Public toilets are walls. There was a line of 4 Indian guys all stood relieving themselves against a wall with a kid on the end crouched curling one out – All on a public view with people just walking past going about their day.

We found a metro station and more to get out of the heat than save walking we headed down. It was air conned and such a welcome break from the heat. Costs seem to be pretty random, and we were charged 10 Rupees for both Charlie and me for 3 stops down the line. Technically I should have paid for Abi too, but when I realised this it was too late to start messing about queuing again. It seems that anyone over 90cm pays the same fare.
We travelled to Connaught Place because I wanted to get the kids some books. Charlie ended up with a Famous Five book and Abi an activity book.
We jumped in a rickshaw for the journey back to the hotel and I had to laugh when the driver had a mask on which was obviously to protect him from all the fumes and dust. Until of course he pulled it down to have a fag!

This is a request to anyone reading to find something out for me please. I have seen a lot of men walking round holding hands; it is a very common site. Is Delhi very liberal and a hub for many gay men, or is it usual that male friends walk round holding hands?

Anyway, the remainder of the day was spent partly trying to fight a losing battle of getting hot water in the shower and partly relaxing after what has been a harsh introduction to a hot day in Delhi.

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3 Comments

Natalie Thompson June 9, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Hey Stewart,

Its so lovely to read about all your travels. I spent 2 hours last night reading about 2009 and I am proper loving 2010…
I log onto facebook and its the first thing I do check Charlies page to see if you have posted another story.
I am absoutley astonished at Charlie and Abi’s attitude for children travelling they are doing fantastic and are very tough kids I really dont think I would cope..
Ive been reading about this holding hands things and its not about being gay its a general thing male friends do in many indian countrys.
I am eagerly anticapting the next installment I feel im living your travels as well lol.

Good luck and have fun x x x

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Stu, Charlie and Abi June 11, 2010 at 9:50 am

Thank you Natalie, what lovely comments!

Hopefully we can keep you interested – And thank you for clarifying the holding hands, i guess as a male from Yorkshire it is in my genes to assume that any man touching another man just must be gay!

Take care

x

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Natalie Thompson June 12, 2010 at 9:57 am

Hey Stewart,
Thanks for your message, yeah I feel the same I think I would find it weird as well its like road kill your not supposed to look at it but you do lol.
I cant believe you didnt enjoy delhi its a shame they try and scam you as much as they did.
Ive no idea how your coping with the heat I cant cope with english summer let alone Indian summer.
I hope you are enjoying yourselves and i am already excited for your next installment

Have fun x x x

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