Oh the humanity…
Okay, I have been here three days but until we went to Old Delhi, I had actually not been to India yet. Until now, we have gone from our fancy hotel to the Fulbright compound, back to the bus. Old Delhi (as opposed to New Delhi) contains the Red Fort, a red sandstone fortress that contains beautiful white marble palace buildings. It was built by Shah Jahan, the same Moghul ruler who built the Taj Mahal in Agra and was the center of a large empire for many years.
Sixteen Americans getting off a bus in the middle of a street attracts a fair amount of attention. People were staring and taking pictures of us and this was a tourist site in the city to begin with. But, of course, as it turned out, everyone was so nice and despite some of the stares, the little kids were so sweet and would wave and say hello. We would ask permission to take their pictures and then they would like to look at the pictures on our digital cameras.
After we left the fort, we went into the market surrounding it. Here is where I started to go into sensory overload! There was truly so much to take in, I couldn’t figure out where to look which didn’t really matter because I had to look at my feet and where I was walking so that I didn’t step in something icky or fall off the sidewalk or into a pothole or step on a person laying on the sidewalk! It really looks like what you have heard; dirty, crowded, and TEEMING with life. Everywhere you look there are people (and I heard from our guide that it wasn’t very crowded on this day because it was Sunday and a lot of people were at home!) doing the daily tasks of life right there on the street. We saw people getting haircuts, peeing, eating, sleeping, laughing and hanging out, worshiping, and shopping!