Saturday, 20 December 2014

India - Day 3: Train to Jaipur

After a hideously early start and a close brush with a taxi trying to take us to the airport instead of the station, we boarded the 6.05 Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Jaipur. The early morning train through the Delhi suburbs and surrounding settlements was an eye opener: houses all along the railway line, complete with the spectacle of people getting up, small shops, yards, washing, cows, pigs, dogs, people, more people, people using the railway as a toilet, more people using the railway as a toilet. Certainly different and more interesting that the approach to Paddington or Temple Meads...

We got fed a very dodgy looking breakfast on the train, made up of 'vegetable croquettes' and bread that looked like it was made from cardboard. I contented myself with the tea and digestive biscuits.

The train window was absolutely filthy, but I did manage to take a few photos of the sights on the journey, avoiding the squatting locals.

A sample of the Delhi suburbs
A snack vendor at one of the stations we went through. The platforms on all of the stations have many competing stalls.
Passengers on a passing train

The journey took us through Rajasthan's farming lang
Mother and baby waiting for another train. 
More soon from Jaipur itself. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

India - Day 2: India Gate and CP

After going a bit crazy with the photos on Day 1, Day 2 was more restrained. To combat the extreme heat, we spend most of the morning looking for a loose pair of trousers for me (photos of said trousers later). We also went to see India Gate, walked down Janpath and up to Connaught Place again. In theory, there's a beautiful view down Rajpath, along the 1km or so between India Gate and the Vijay Chowk, where the parliamentary buildings are. Sadly, it was so smoggy that when we were about half way between the two, you couldn't see either either monument. Connaught place has the larges Indian flag in the world, which was fluttering proudly.

We spent the afternoon at Akshardham, a brand new Hindu temple complex in Delhi. It's an absolutely beautiful building, all made of hand-carved sandstone and marble, and set in stunning grounds. Being a temple of course meant no cameras, but it was really nice to just wander around peacefully (albeit sticking out like a sore thumb and being stared, pointed and waved at by groups of school children) without the distractions. For those interested, look here:

On duty at India Gate
I wish I had a hat this fabulous
Shrine to Ganesha and Lakshmi
The biggest Indian flag in the world. It was pretty damn big. 

The next set of photos will be Jaipur, so stay posted...

Thursday, 18 December 2014

India - Day 1: Nizamuddin Complex

One of the unfortunate things that happens when you get back from holiday is that real life reasserts itself and gets in the way. So apologies to those of you who have been eagerly waiting for the next installment: here it is, finally!

These are the final few photos from Day 1. After Chawri Bazaar, we took the metro (clean, efficient, stupidly cheap and pretty fast, if packed with people) to the Nizamuddin Complex. The main attraction the tomb of one of the most famous sufi saints, Nizamuddin Auliya, and has a number of other smaller tombs of his disciples in the surrounding area. We stayed around watching sunset over Delhi, or at least what you can see of the sun behind all of the smog. We then retired to the hotel, utterly footsore and knackered. Nothing like a busy day to help you get over jet lag...

The man responsible for the huge rolls of cardboard in the last post. His friend was very amused that I was taking photos of him.

Bags of coloured wooden beads in Chawri Bazaard
And yet more beads, just in case you didn't have enough...

One of the more picturesque streets in Old Delhi. The main attraction is a man getting his ears cleaned. 
Gateway to one of the tombs in the Nizamuddin complex
Said tomb. Looking a little worse for wear. 
The view from the roof of Nizamuddin's tomb
All of the tombs have beautiful carvings or marble work along the top and sides.
Chamber in one of the smaller tombs.

Just to prove that it really is us there! Also, it's harder than it looks to take a selfie with a DSLR - I had to make use of Christopher's long arms...

 More soon (I promise). Day 2 will bring the delights of India Gate and the world's largest Indian Flag, so hold on to your hats, people...

Monday, 24 November 2014

India - Day 1: Lunch and Chawri Bazaar

After a busy and hot morning in the Red Fort, we moved on to Chawri Bazaar, an area near Chandi Chowk known for it's shops. We tried (and failed) to get there on foot, so we eventually gave in to the crowd of rickshaw drivers to get there. Everything in Delhi is further apart than you think!

Around Chawri Bazaar, there are all sorts of small streets, each with its own theme: paper shops, metal working, beads, saris, text books, you name it. We had great fun wandering the streets feeling incredibly out of place and looked at like we were mad, but it was wonderful to get out and explore. Christopher took the opportunity to indulge in some excellent street food. I was still full from breakfast (and feeling the effects of travel) but it gave me a great excuse to take loads of photos. Hearty lunch for 40 rupees (40p). Yum.

Cycle rickshaw to Chawri Bazaar
A somewhat laid-back passenger in another rickshaw
Quilt makers and sellers
A woman inspecting the produce
Lunch please...
A man with a paan cart. Paan is a palate cleanser made with a variety of different ingredients and wrapped in a leaf. Apparently chew very carefully, or your mouth will explode (says Christopher).

One of Delhi's many, many dogs taking a well-earned rest in the heat.

A brass pipe shop! Floor to ceiling brass pipe. Sandwiched between two other brass pipe shops. On a brass pipe street. You get the idea...

We went into a small shop piled high with paper and notebooks, all with beautiful tie-dyed covers and sold by weight.

Rolls of corrugated card

A shrine next to rubbish gathering on the street. Very Indian. 

The staircase up to a textbook emporium.
I couldn't decide whether I liked the colour of B&W version better

Friday, 21 November 2014

India - Day 1: Red Fort

And here's part 2 of our morning on day 1 in Delhi. After breakfast of kachori followed by assorted methai (India sweets made mostly from pistachio, butter and sugar), we hit the Red Fort. Christopher may have had to prop my up most of the way round, as I was suffering the after-effects of jet-lag. 

I also had the first taste of feeling like a minor celebrity/rare wild animal. There were loads of people around, including lots of Indian families and groups of school children, and we were rather stared at. Surreptitious (and not so surreptitious) photos were taken on smart phones, families stopped us and asked for photos with us, some people tried to casually stand next to us while their friends took photos. And a small group tended to gather whenever I stopped to take a photo. All very friendly, but rather strange!

One of the things that struck me throughout the trip is how beautifully most women dress. On the whole, the men tended to be dressed in western style, but almost every woman I saw was wearing a dazzling sari, especially when we were visiting the large monuments. It puts us in the UK to shame. 

Baskets of flowers sold as offerings for shrines
Flocks of pigeons circled almost all of the large buildings

While the Red Fort is beautiful, there are signs of dilapidation everywhere.  

But the details that are intact are stunning, especially the marble-work. 

India - Day 1: Chandi Chowk for Breakfast

Well goodness me hasn't it been a long time? Anyway, on with business.

Christopher was working in India for the whole of October and I took the opportunity to go out for a holiday when he'd finished filming. We had nine days in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and I've managed to get the 1700+ photos down to about 260. Here are a few from the first day, in Delhi. We had breakfast in Chandi Chowk, a main street near Old Delhi's complex of bazaars. There are also a couple of pictures from Connaught Place on the previous evening.

Text-book seller off Chandi Chowk
Cycle rickshaw driver waiting for the next fare

And off they go...

Breakfast of kachori and masala chai. Yum. 

Marigold sellers
Men sitting in the street

Fruit seller in Connaught Place

Knife grinder in Connaught Place

Next post will be the Red Fort in Delhi, and then photos of Chawri Bazaar, where we spent the afternoon wandering and sticking out like a sore thumb.