Heaven: An eternal state of communion with God; everlasting bliss.
Time is running out and I want to buy some Indi-ana for my home. We tried our tactical manoeuvre, I would squeeze my boyfriends arm when I spotted something and he would raise his voice “Chaaaaiiiieeeee!!!, Chaaaaiiiieeeee!!!”. The imitation is perfect. This always catches the shop keepers off guard as they don’t expect to see a western tourist say this, some have giggled and lowered their prices, but only a fraction.
Today has been kind of violent and kind of heavenly. We took the metro from Ramakrishna to Chowri Bazaar. This sounds simple but it’s not. The Delhi metro is clean and airconditioned and cheap, small change. The downfall is Rajiv Chowk, the station where you have to transfer onto another line. Rajiv Chowk is already outdated before it ever began, a timebomb, a disaster waiting to happen. The problem is it can’t handle the crowds and I hate to think what is going to happen when the Commonwealth Games and the airport line are all up and running. We stepped into the carriage on line 2 heading north or should I say we were mauled down by the mob who were all heading north. Just as the train is about to leave and you hear the alarm signalling that the doors are closing everyone makes a mad run for it as if they are escaping from some sort of invisible Titanic. It isn’t pretty, I could hear a little girl screaming and another little kid in sobbing, I was pushed backwards. The other time my boyfriends shirt got all ripped in the commotion, we left buttons missing and bedraggeled. (Tip: If you are using the Delhi metro try not to transfer at Rajiv Chowk at rush hour, getting ripped off by rickshaw drivers is fun in comparison).
We had brunch at the golden arches and then walked across the road to explore the Jain temple, Digambar. The man working the door said I couldn’t go in with a leather handbag and I would have to hand it over. I say “working the door” as in he was sitting at the entrance with no official name badge or identification and there was no storage area for shoes and handbags. This has never happened in any place of worship in India before so I told him to forget it and as we were walking away he shouted:
“Okay, okay, you can go in with it.”
Jain temples seem organic, as if they have just grown over the years, a shrine added here and a statue added there. Other places like churches and mosques are more regimented in design. Digambar is an oasis in the chaos, multi colored paintings all over the walls. Some people were waving candles infront of statues and it just seemed really neat.
We then left and wandered onto manic Subhash Road and caught an auto rickshaw to Lodi Gardens. My boyfriend tried his ‘Me-Hindustani-chai-wallah-Indian-Railways‘ on the driver but it didn’t work. Lodi Gardens is a little bit of heaven in the center of Delhi. It’s like the Botanical Gardens you get in Europe only without all of the glass and heaters. We just lay in the shade of a tree for a while, totally content with our picnic. A loud French family wandered through and were immediately surrounded by the balloon wallahs. We just seemed to blend in. I spotted an old European army officer with his medals going for a stroll and a group of Indian girls in their beautiful saris walking across the ruins of the 15th Century Bara Gumbad. The trees are full of green parakeets and there are mynas and kingfishers. We threw some cookies to the grey squirrels and just lazed around until it was getting dark. We stopped off at India Gate, by this time it was dark and the monument lit up. It’s like a skinny Arc de Triomphe, only it’s India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was buzzing with people, some children who were selling balloons and wind-up toys were agressive in their sales technique.We met modern brainwashed Delhiites, they told us they live in Delhi’s Silicon Valley called Gurgaon and someone mentioned which car they have and I was just wishing they would leave us alone, the moment was too western, trying to impress people while covering their own insecurity.
The Red Fort of Old Delhi, which is infact a rusty orange pink!
Main Bazaar = insane. There is a heavy police presence, they are not letting traffic through and I reckon it has something to do with Diwali. Then again if someone wanted to get a bomb in Main Bazaar don’t they just have to bring it through the alleyways instead? A fight broke out between two men, they were punching each other, it was pure violence on it’s highest level. Everyone was just standing looking and my boyfriend and I were THE ONLY ONE’S who went over and seperated them as it was turning really nasty. At first my boyfriend tried and wasn’t having any luck so I stepped in, yes little old me, the one who was the quietest in the classroom. India pushes you to confront yourself and makes you realise you will do things you could never have imagined.
I still have India in these last moments. Delhi is Sliver with it’s many cameras and i’m the voyeur, free to peer into as many lives as I wish before the movie finally ends. Sometimes I don’t understand what I’m seeing. I realise now the European place in which I live has been airbrushed beyond all recognition. In the European darkened empire you don’t see people with no legs or arms, anyone infact who doesn’t fit the norm of how people are ‘expected’ to be. Where are they? Are they all locked up in a monastery? I can’t tell you about the variations in humanity that I have witnessed in India, it wouldn’t be right to hold them up and make them different from anyone else but all I want to say in witnessing this is that it has made me a better and more compassionate person. People are not as strong as you think, so the saying goes. India may have it’s faults like anywhere else but at least it’s real. Long Live India!