26.05.2010 45 °C
We woke up at 9.30 to find that Ryan had gone to university for a seminar so we got up, showered and set out to the metro station just down the road. On the way we found a McDonalds in the mall so popped in for a coke as we didn’t have anything else to drink! We took the metro to Chandi Chowk, famous for its markets and were really pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the metro! When we arrived and exited the station we had no idea which way to go. My first impression was that it looked like a bomb site, dust and rubble everywhere, people lying on the floor on blankets covered in dirt, old crumbling shops selling everything from old plastic wheels for sofas to used water bottles and little metal trollies selling refrigerated water (i.e. ‘tap’ water in glasses). It was a really hot, humid day and for an hour or so we wandered around the maze of alleyways first all selling electronic equipment (or piles of used wires, transistors and spare parts) then we passed into an area selling spices. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, bikes and rickshaws haphazardly weaving around the streets and was getting too hot because, as of yet we hadn’t found anywhere selling a drink (or one that we could trust drinking!) Eventually we found a street stall and Sam bought a glass bottle of drink- as we started to wander off with it a kiddie chased after us and tugged in Sam’s arm “bottle” he said- we were supposed to drink the drink and leave the bottle! Ok so now a little re-hydrated we had a look around a little mosque that we came across near Old Delhi Train Station. We left our shoes with the man outside and had a wander around, as we walked around outside we saw the door to the bird hospital mentioned in Lonely Planet- we had just stumbled across it so after a quick photo of our first monkey sighting we checked out the hospital. The first floor had little cages with a couple of ill looking birds in each one from pigeons (of which there were a lot) to parakeets and also 5 eagles! The second floor was one cage of pigeons and a little chick on a tray of seed outside the cage which the “vet” picked up and dropped back onto the tray. As we were leaving the hospital, 2 people arrived with pigeons that were bleeding as if they’d been bitten by dogs. It’s a strange religion Jain Hinduism that believes in protecting all live but it’s nice I suppose. We got our shoes back and gave the guy 10Rs before heading back into the crazy back alleys. We bought some drinks from a street vendor-this time that we can take with us, and wandered around the area selling fabrics in the hope that I might find a traditional Indian outfit to wear- a shalwar Kameeze. No such luck on the clothing front, we stopped to look at one stall and the owner invited us in to sit in his shop whilst he produced endless packets of beautiful material but it turned out to be one piece of material that has to be taken to a tailor! No thanks. We saw a multi-coloured building over the rooves of the road that we were on so headed to find out what it was. It turned out to be a quiet, cool mosque where we sat for a while to cool off at the back of the room watching people that had come to worship. It was a serene place to contemplate how these people fit religion into their lives and how with the little money that they have they buy flowers and sweets as offerings to place on the deities. I was really hot by this point (as it was still over 40 degrees in the shade) and on the verge of feeling ill. We had a wander around the building then a man came over to us and started explaining to Sam a bit about the mosque and what people were doing. I went to stand outside as I felt quite ill then went to get Sam and we got some cold water (which I downed most of) then went in search of the State Emporium, a shopping complex with fixed prices and a food court. We walked in the direction of the complex (using Lonely Planet) but paused for a drink- a dangerous move. Within 20 seconds a man had appeared and pointed us in the ‘direction of the State emporium’ then proceeded to walk with us saying that he was walking this way anyway. Ok fair enough he wasn’t causing trouble but we guessed that he was up to no good. After warning us about pickpockets whilst conveniently slowing down to allow a group of youths to get very close to us whilst they looked at our pockets I was convinced that he was up to no good. He then led us to the “state emporium” as it said, painted above the door, a little shoddy shop down a back alley where the owner just happened to walk down the street and greet us at the door. We weren’t interested so said “no thanks” and walked back the way we thought the emporium was, on a parallel road. We located it after a short walk and had a look around a couple of the clothes shops. There was a nice fair trade shop with a really friendly shop keeper and a whole floor of shalwar kameezes- Amy heaven! I tried on lots of outfits and got a pair of white trousers quite dirty with my disgusting Delhi feet (from wearing flip-flops) so the lady gave me some carrier bags for my feet to try on the other pairs. I found a red/orange outfit that fitted well so bought it. It was lunch time so we ventured upstairs to the food court, after the waiter trying to persuade me that I wanted Lassi (sour milk) instead of a milkshake we had some rather spicy food which Sam ended up eating most of. It was 4pm by this point and we decided to soldier on and visit Jantar Manter as it was nearby and something to do. We bought tickets without any hassle then began to wander around reading the signs about the different astronomical instruments. A man approached us and asked if we would like a guide, we politely declined and carried on when another man came over and claimed that his father had given a tour to Steven Hawkings and that he worked for the government and didn’t want any money- ok fair enough. He told us a bit about each instrument and Sam listened whilst I took some photos of the orange clay monstrosities. At the end of his ‘tour’ he asked Sam for some money for his family, we guessed that this would happen but as he had explicitly said that he didn’t want money we didn’t give him any. He left in a huff and our nice peaceful walk was spoilt- ah well. We had a clamber on some of the instruments before a man came around shouting something in Hindi and everyone started to leave so we followed the trend. We arrived back at Ryan’s flat before he was back so his landlady let us in and 15 minutes later he got home from university and we went out for dinner. It was a little hotel with a rooftop restaurant filled with pale-faces but with really good food! Afterwards we had a walk around before catching the metro back, rolling out our bed and going to sleep whilst Ryan went out somewhere to do university work- he works all of the time- crazy architects!