526t Delhi 15-28/6/09

Good on Delhi

- So many things in India piss me off, but there are a couple of good things in Delhi
- 1. 1Rp iced water sellers on almost every corner
- 2. Well organised metro, not yet overcrowded
- 3. Ancient Mughal ruins scattered about the city.

...Otherwise I hated it
- Actually I didn't find Delhi too much more stressful than the rest of India. Every town is the same.

- Street Ice Water Sellers - The Delhi government seems to have decided that in the hot season people need enough water, so they have set up a whole network of guys with ice water tanks on almost every street corner and the price is fixed at 1Rp. I It's been a great thing for me

- Delhi Metro - Wow after all the crowded buses this is great. Easy to buy a ticket, asy to use and not crowded outside rush hours. The thing is it will be a disaster when all the normal people use it, but for now they stay away, maybe cos of the security checks which slow you down and would confiscate cigarette lighters. Surely many people can afford the cost it's mostly $0.10US

- Street Ice Cream Sellers - In this heat I can easily buy many 10c icelollies everyday, they really do cool you down.

- But - If Paharganj has been the main tourist hotel street for 30 years it must have generated lots of money, why is it still not properly paved In the morning it's full of dust, dirt and potholes.

Delhi events
- www.delhievents.com
- upcoming.yahoo.com/
- www.buzzintown.com - events site mostly nightlife first

Work and heat
- I haven't updated the blog for 2 weeks cos I had to just concentrate on work.
- the SP webpages had turned into a bit of a mess. So 12 days of getting down to work : hotel to cyber to eat to cyber to eat to cyber etc.

Heat was terrible

- had to water the room every night - get up in middle of night for shower.

Mon - Arriving - survive the 1st battle
- I'd been putting off going to Delhi, but now I couldn't think of what else to do
- arrived from Chandigargh- superglued my glasses and punched a taxidriver. Totally lost I took one bus south and another north to the station crossed to Paharganj almost having to punch more taxi drivers.

- Tried The 3 hotels on my list - found the Bright Hotel for only $2. I was actually a cloudy morning so I unwisely accepted a room on the roof.

Mon - Some Exploring

- Walked to Connaught Place - Went to official tourist information offices, both Delhi and India Tourism were useless
- I knew there are many fake tourism offices which do a trip to Kashmir scam , but it was a totally surreal experience : I walked by he called me in and then I spoke in Hindi ; the guy went totally crazy desperate to get me out .. When I took a picture of the shop I had to run cos he shouted he was going kill me.
- British Council library was nearby so went in - read books/newspaper

- One thing was I didn't want to miss any Humanist or skeptics meetings whilst I was in Delhi so it was a priority to visit their offices. Now I was on Jangtapath St there was a bus to the SE where the Humanist Office is , so I jumped on. The Humanist office turned out to be just a home . Anyway I found I had just missed meeting yesterday

- Nearby was the Monument like Taj Mahal caled Humayuns Tomb so I walked there. There's a 250Rp foreigner price, so I couldn't be bothered to go in. Instead I decided to head for the Rationalist office which is also in the SE of the city, but across the river.

- I wasted loads of time crossing railway at Nizamuddin Station , got a bus to Mahur Vihar found the Rationalist Office but by then it was closed 7pm .. so took a bus back

-Exploring South Delhi Mughal building in the middle of housing estates

Tue - Explore West
- internet. Then phoned Mr Edamarku at the Rationalist Office he was going out so I decided to explore the Meto system. I went almost all the way west Metro to west got down at ?? Garden , which has 3 shopping malls - took lunch etc

- Festival of Make Garbage That day there was a Hindu festival where they set up many stalls giving free food and rosemilk drink, but by the time they finished the streets were full of their garbage : plates, plastic cups etc.

Wed - Explore Metro NW
- run, internet.
- Then strange illness the heat/dryness had caused my shit to fossilise in me sat on toilet for 4 hours .. Weird things happen in India.
- So no time to go back to rationalist office.. So explored north west metro and TV tower area. Not much to see .... It would have been good to go up the TV tower, but anti-terrorism laws mean it's closed. Passed large "movie like sets" used for weddings.

Thu- Exporing Delhi East
- Took metro the National Exhibition Centre, but the National Science Centre turned out to be in the opposite corner of the site : It's big like all science centers combined, but could have been made better

Across road is the 1KM square high stone walled Quila Fort - typical when you pay your foreigner price ticket there's nothing extra to see can't go up walls etc.

- bus back up to North Dellhi to Red Fort didn't go in cos of foreigner price

- There was a special electronics bazaar so I bought new cables very cheaply.

-Exploited at the Mosque - The biggest mosque Jama Mashid is a short walk. I went in 1993, but I wanted to look again. But there were a few money grabbing people working there who spoil the traditions of Islam. It's free to visit, but there is a 200Rp camera fee. The shoe guarder outside must be accustomed to collecting this 200Rp I Had to get him to inspect my bag to prove I don't carry a camera. Then when I got inside after 5m another strange man, not in uniform or badged tried also to get 200Rp off me. "you have camera ". Since I'd been before I was quick all I wanted to do was to go up the minaret view tower 100Rp, but the ticket seller asked for extra baksheesh as did 3 other people on the way out including the shoe guarder who I'd already tipped.

- I walked through a medina like Muslim area nearby. Then I was attacked by a small child again. An 8 year old kid threw water at me and ran away. Of course it took me 30s to run after him and catch him. "Sorry, sorry", he kept saying ... Doesn't anyone here teach their kids limits ? This time I did nothing, but if that kid continues like this he'll get a slap from someone bigger.

- There was a metro station so I went to the north end, but nothing special to see.

Fri - visit Rationalists Office -
- The metro actually now crosses the river so you can get a feeder bus to Mahur Vihar but I got the wrong feeder Mahur Vihar 4 and Mahur Vihar 5 are far apart so wasted time. I had tea with the top man Mr Edamarku who is often on Indian TV. I do worry that these organizations depend too much on 1 man instead of building a broad member base. The rest of the Rational HQ is mainly a book distribution office

- On the way some confident idiot gave me back wrong directions so walked miles to metro

- ride subway alll the way south west. It was all newly built spread out 8 storey apartment buildings..

- buy ice good to have real cold drink.

Sat - Internet then AF concert
- When I got back I found someone had broken my room padlock so Saturday had to buy a new lock. Then all day internet work.

- I dragged some people down the Alliance Francaise Music Day concert, but it turned out to be disappointing not like the big festival it is in KL.

- Walked to the nearby India Habitat Centre, this modern arts/theatre centre looks like it should be in Stockholm.

Sun - Mughal Ruins in the Middle
of Housing Estates
- On BBC Radio 4 : Excess Baggage journalist Sam Miller was talking about walking around Delhi and sites tourists don't normally go to .. You can listen again from the Excess Baggage archive on the Radio 4 Website

- I took a bus to South Delhi and spent the whole day wandering around 600 year old Mughal ruins. As Sam said it is amazing that they just sit there with housing estates being built right around them. You see in Mughal times 600 years ago thay was the centre of Delhi, then in modern times the centre moved 15Km north, but now the suburbs are expanding out to Soth Delhi. He told of an ancient Mosque in the Commonwealth Games construction site that was just completely bulldozed.

- 2 Important Factors
- 1. There are so many of these Mughal ruins in South Delhi
- 2. They are Muslim ruins so I suspect a Hindu dominated government isn't really interested in preserving them.

- Surely the Delhi Heritage Board is incompetent ? You can't leave such important heritage to fall down. It's a pity they don't have a system of privatising them say by giving 10 year leases to use them for restaurants/ hotels or concert venues. Being in use would help conserve them and provide money for repairs.

- I set off to visit some like Khirki-ki-Masjid I got the directions from Wikipedia, but that place turned out to be a similar abandoned Mosque complex
- See my map
- 1. Moth Ki Masjid Mosque wrongly confused with Khirki-ki-Masjid on Wikipedia map coordinates - off Kranti Marg nearly opposite HUB shopping centre
- walked back to Kranti Marg then 500m south to
- 2. Siri Fort - Commonwealth games village construction
- I took a bus, but it's easier to walk 1Km south to :
- 3. Khirki-ki-Masjid accidentally walked to .. front of Saket shopping mall. It was a strange coincidence : I went to the mall to meet someone, but crossed the road to look for a cybercafe and as I walked behind the shops suddenly there was a sign. Interestingly enough both mapboards had been defaced as if someone didn't want you to visit. It was an impressive site. It's a still largely intact and consists of a football pitch sized building of 40 domes. Inside is a strange effect as the 4 columns supporting each dome make up lines in every direction including the diagonal. Nothing touristic is made of it ..there were a few old men playing cards.
- 150m north to
- 4. A Square box tomb
- walked 600m north through a gated community to
- 5. Some Abandoned Mosque/Mauseleums
- then 1Km west, real cold Pepsi to
- 6. Bijai Mandal Platform Large abandoned dome, one can climb for good city views and then
- 100m south is
- 7. Begampur Mosque Another abandoned mosque complex like Khirki-ki-Masjid ... It's a large courtyard so it would be good for some purposes like concert, conference etc
- 200m east back to main road Sri Aurebindo and 1.5Km by bus to
- 8. Al Qutab tower and iron pillar , I didn't go in
- 200m south to
- 9. Ahinsa Stahl- a high placed dome also with views
- back west across the road to :
- 10. Whole park of Mughal ruins
- I went to the west side and then uphill north then back east
- 11. A huge step well
- 200m east to
- 12. Another large dome tomb

- bus 501 ? or 505 ? came all the way back to Connaught Place and New Delhi station

- notes : Recommends Mosque surrounded by houses South Delhi Ruins often found abandoned in the middle of new housing developments :
- Access to the mosque is through the narrow lanes of Khirki village near Saket, which is located in South Delhi. It is 4 km (2.5 mi) east of Qutub Minar and 13 km (8.1 mi) south of Connaught Place. The remnants of the fourth city of Delhi, Jahanpanah, the raised Bijai Mandal Platform and the Begampur Mosque with its variety of domes are other attractions close to the mosque

He also recommends : The River gardens in the city

- This guy has good photos

Mon- Sat- A whole week of internet work
- Every day : get up - get water -- internet - lunch - internet - dinner - internet

- Thu - went to meet humanists - but they never came.... so I walked ..first to the Indian Habitat Centre for dinner in their foodcourt... Then walked through a nearby Lodi Gardens park where there were even more Mughal Mauseleums and ruins.

Sat - was waiting for science lecture - cancelled

Sun- Decided to Leave to Rishikesh
- I'd done the internet work, Delhi was hot as hell. No other ideas so I thought I'd try Rishikesh. You get there by night-train to Hardiwar and then bus Rishikesh. Morning I walked 200m to the station and the foreigners counter upstiars and it was so easy to get a ticket.

Sun- More Walking - Leave to Rishikesh

- setoff to explore Ridge Forest- there was nothing to see and I found myself at another park Talkakan Park .... I ended up walking south 1.5Km along an inne ringroad passing the Ghandi Salt March statue

- I found myself at the Nehru Mansion, which was like some kind of Shrine to Nehru his daughter PM Indira Gandi and the family that still govern both top political parties in India. It made me a bit sick all those biased nationalist displays.

- I tried to get south to Hauz Khaus Mughal ruin park, but the road turned out to be a military road. Just then there was heavy rain the first of this years monsoon. Typical I buy a ticket to escape the Delhi heat and 5 hours later it's suddenly cool. Actually although it rained for 2 days the heat came back as the monsoon proper didn't come for 2 weeks.

- I had to get to old Delhi station for the train ..getting a bus there wasa bit stressful.. I should have walked.

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