Day -2

The Red Fort in Old Delhi. Built during the Mughal period and later occupied by the British. This is where the Prime Minister makes his Annual Report to the citizens of India.

Crews are anxious to get started, but the Great Indian Bureaucracy requires that we wait 3 days after we enter the country to claim our car. I cannot figure out the reason for this rule, but there is lot about India that is difficult to figure out. 

So what to do.......look around; see the sights and shops......and try to avoid the noonday sun. Yes, it's stifling hot in Delhi. Temperature is 95-100 Fahrenheit , but the humidity can be stupefying after a couple of hours outside (God Bless Wills Carrier, the inventor of modern air conditioning). 

Traffic: In a word -- impossible! Lines in the street are only suggestions and nobody follows the suggestions. Especially in Old Delhi, where the streets are narrow, it is virtually impossible to get around; you walk (and crossing a street is a harrowing experience), you ride a motorbike, or you employ one of the ubiquitous rickshaws to move you from place to place. There a saying in India that you need three things in order to drive a car in India: Good brakes, a good horn and, most importantly, good luck. Tomorrow when we pick up our cars at the bonded warehouse, we will need to drive about 50 km through this Delhi traffic to get back to our will be a good beta test for all the crews. 

Interesting modern architecture in New Delhi
Typical spice shop in Old Delhi
  While New Delhi was laid out by two famous British architects (Lutyens and Baker) and is clean, with grand boulevards and lots of flowers, plants and trees, not so Old Delhi. Old Delhi is spider web of small overcrowded lanes, alleys, and shops that are home to the continual movement of goods and people. Within the space of 10 feet you can see workmen unloading thousands of sacks of cement or sand for some new building project, while women literally sit in the passageway selling vegetables or spices, while a barber plies his trade, in the same passageway, cutting hair and trimming is non-stop activity without any organization or plan.......but definitely exhausting. 

This is the place where Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of Modern
 India, was murdered in 1948 on his way to evening prayers.
Among all this humanity in Old Delhi, we were able to visit the largest Mosque in India, with space to accommodate 40,000 worshippers at one time. Built by the Mughals out of the same red sandstone used to build the Red Fort, all the stone was quarried in Agra and the transported 250 km to Delhi. After the Grand Mosque, we visited the Red Fort, an impressive structure that projected the strength of the Mughal Empire. 

Our last stop today was the home of Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi, and the place where he was murdered a mere 6 months after Indian event he spent much of his adult life bringing about. His life's work is too long to describe here in this blog, but suffice it to say that he was one of the true heroes of the 20th Century. His non-violent crusade brought an end to British Colonialism in India and Pakistan, as well as inspiring the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela, both of whom used his war of non-violence to change societies and make this world a little more just for many people who had no voice. His last home has become a museum chronologically tracing his life. Our visit was very inspiring and uplifting. 

Pictures of the largest Mosque in India is located in Old Delhi

And, finally, a quick look into the local shops that stretch out endlessly on every street. If you're looking for semi-precious stones, beads, earrings, necklaces or carvings, this is your place......bargaining expected. For me, I bought a couple of traditional male Indian outer-shirts and good luck beads (I'm going native) and small traveling chess set for my grandson, Asher, who enjoys the game. By the way, Asher (who reads the blog), I learned that the game of chess originated in India around the 7th Century. The game was called Chaturanga and eventually migrated to Europe around the 15th Century. 

The narrow streets of Old Delhi are narrow, crowded and difficult to navigate. We dropped our car on the outside and got around on foot or by rickshaw.

Tomorrow we get our cars, sign-on, go through scrutineering and safety checks and a big Welcome Party......the following day we start rallying.   As I said at the beginning,  the crews are getting anxious.