The stillness of our sleep was like death. We were exhausted from the trip and knew that we were facing Embassy day today. Surprisingly, we awoke fairly refreshed and we both seemed to know who we were :)
Not more than two minutes into our trip, BLAM! our taxi blew a tire. Yash, our English speaking driver was johnny on the spot to fix it. He was a delightful man, about our age, married 15 years with 3 children. We really enjoyed his company and he was easy to laugh with us, especially when I told him the tire blew on my side because I am too fat! The police stood guard at a distance, as we exited the car to allow Yash to make the exchange from flat to inflated spare.
The embassy experience, only hours old, seems like a dream. At long last, we met the Welser’s and the whole experience seemed far less tense with friends there for support. Conversation with them came easily and made the wait go by very quickly. Manoj Mahay was our examiner. He happens to know someone in Washington state...small world. All the paperwork was in order, although we are one of the first families working with Dillon to go through a new filing procedure. There were a couple of tense moments when he asked for Bhargabi’s passport which is in Kolkata for the completion of the filing there. A brief explanation and everything was resolved.
Business done for the day, we set out site seeing with Yash as our guide. First we stopped at the Indian parliament buildings in New Delhi. It is a huge span of red sandstone buildings with immaculate grounds built around 1913. The roadway is the Rajpath at the end of which is the India Gate. India Gate is a war memorial honoring the 90 thousand soldiers whose lives were lost in WWI. It seems to make sense that this area and our Washington DC mall with capital followed by a line of monuments are similar in design as both countries have ties to Britain.
Heading into Old Delhi, we stopped at Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, built in 1658. It sits high atop a long flight of steps overlooking the city. This area is the home of a large Muslim population some of whom were worshipping while we were there. We also took a couple pictures of a cute boy who was having a wonderful time running at a flock of pigeons forcing them into flight. Darling!
The marg, or way (street) leading into the mosque is public mayhem. It is crowed with lower level shops selling everything from car parts to fresh fish, and upper level apartments. We arrived when school was letting out so the street was a gridlock of auto rickshaws and bicycle rickshaws both giving uniformed students rides home. In addition there were horse drawn carts hauling goods from here to there and taxis who drive by way of horns. Mode of transportation is determined by how much can be strapped on and we witnessed some pretty precarious loads. One bicycle rickshaw was riding with two new refrigerators still in their boxes bouncing along behind him.
We passed the Red Fort which was closed (hope to go in tomorrow) and went to Raj Ghat the place where Mahatma Ghandi was cremated after his assassination in 1948. It is a huge and lush peaceful garden, in the center of which lies a simple black marble slab covered in beautiful flowers with the scent of incense wafting by. Ghandi is still very loved here as was evident by the many locals that still frequent this memorial.
Although I begged him to join us for lunch, Yash stayed outside the restaurant Splash, our first sampling of real Indian food. It was delicious. The best garlic naan I’ve ever had. This was the first place along the way where we encountered anyone who did not speak English well. We managed and both parties got a few chuckles over what was trying to be said versus what was heard. Our bill with tip for our multi course meal was only 10 dollars, amazing.
We summed up the day by visiting the Qutab Minar in South Delhi. Building on the five story tower began here in 1193 when the last Hindu kingdom was defeated in Dehli and it is truly a wonder. The chirping of brightly colored parakeets and parrots greet you as you enter this place. The ornately carved structures are in excellent condition given their age. It was here that Rausen, a young Indian univerity student approached me to ask for a picture together because I am a woman from the USA. He was very cute about it...flattery gets you everywhere!
Discovering Dehli today has been a dream. The people are friendly and extremely proud of the their country. Even pressed, I could not get Yash to mention anything about crime or gangs. He handled the beggar situation honestly, as we were approached often throughout the day with several different tactics from pitiful to the clever...all trying for a spare ruppee or two. We did see cows laying in the streets, but surprisingly, they actually look like that is where they belong. Unphased as sari clad women sitting sidesaddle behind men on motorcycles go whizzing by. The last moments together with our new friend, Yash were spent trying to teach me some Hindi words, a language I continually butcher. In my attempt to say thankyou, which is danyavaad I kept hearing and saying Tanya Ford. Who is she? It gave Yash, a good laugh. Parting ways, he shook both Pat and my hands hard, saying about our adoption, good luck and danyavaad.
Pictures to come as soon as they are uploaded
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