Notes from the traveling desk of Rita Meek
Sunday, May 22 –
Up in the morning to have breakfast at Hamsa’s, a friend of David and Jo’s friend Sarah. We had our first opportunity to experience Delhi's taxi system. We were supposed to be picked up at a certain time, but the taxi driver kept delaying the time of the pickup, while we waited. Finally, our driver for the day came, and off we went to Hamsa’s. Brunch was great with waffles, fruit salad, coffee, yoghurt – yum. Hamsa is a fantastically pleasant and smart (and TALL – 6’7”) PhD student from Columbia studying religion.
It was wonderful to be able to see where Hamsa lives since David and Jo (and soon-to-be NoahBelle) will be living there by the middle of June (note: I'm posting this blog entry from our new/Hamsa's old apartment. A lovely spacious two bedroom apartment in a quiet section of New Delhi with a lovely park nearby.
We went with Hamsa to Qtuba Minar, which means Qtuba’s Tower, built in the 1100s.
Qtuba was the first Muslim conqueror of India. Fantastic mosques with fantastic decorations, such as columns removed from Hindu temples and incorporated into these structures. An extremely tall tower with four different levels, built at different times. In the center of the courtyard was a 30 foot cast-iron pole.
Hamsa was a fantastic tour guide and knew so much about the different religions represented in the site, and so many historical details about everything we saw. We told him he should be a tour guide for an upscale company, like Overseas Adventure Travel or Smithsonian! Not very likely, apparently!
There were many many families visiting Qtuba, with the women all wearing beautiful saris in splendid colors with gold decorative elements. The children were, for the most part, wearing “Western” clothes.
Frequently the grandparents accompanied the father, mother and children. Jo explained that usually the son lives indefinitely with his parents. After he is married, he and his wife and (ultimately) their children all live with the husband’s parents. The daughter-in-law is expected to care for her inlaws, and, even if she has been well-educated, she may be expected to stay home to carry out her domestic duties.
Then our driver took us on a tour of New Delhi to see many of the government buildings, the large stretch of green which reminded me of the Washington Mall, and to see many of the large homes in the area called “bungaloes” – a far cry from the Craftsman Bungalo from the 1930’s! We went to the Old Delhi market (Chandni Chowk) which was filled with people selling the same wares in tiny little stalls; lots of cows and dogs everywhere. Depressing, crowded, noisy. We saw a rickshaw repair shop, a bicycle repair shop. Lots of people selling the same cotton/textile products. We went to the Jama Masjid mosque, where Jo and Rita had to put on housecoat –type garments so that our arms covered only by our short sleeves would not offend anyone.
Jo was outraged because Indian women attired similarly did not have to put on the coverings.
Back to the apartment and then a trip to the local market, Laipat Nagar Central market.
Then we went to the Bikanerwalla restaurant where we had an interesting selection of foods from both South India and North India – it was a really good meal and we hope to go again on one of our return brief overnight stays in Delhi.
We were supposed to have dinner with Jo’s and David’s friends Tani and Murad but we were so jetlagged we didn’t think we would be great company, so we took a raincheck.
Where are we now?
View Where are we now? in a larger map Jo, Annie, Miles and I are living in Northport, Alabama and working at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. We've been glad to be in one place for a bit after what appeared to be semi-permanently traveling (in actuality for a period of 2.5 years).We started this blog to catalogue some of the adventures when Jo and I were sequentially conducting our dissertation research in India and Brazil. While we've fallen off the blogging bandwagon somewhat during recent trips to Brazil, we're trying to pick it up again now that we're back in India!