Friday, February 17, 2012

Delhi February 15

Greetings from Agra. We've had no Internet for over two days so I will attempt to catch up. Delhi - February 15 Today was our first group tour day. After breakfast we met in the lobby at 9AM. We boarded our 27 seat bus and drove to the Jami Masjid Mosque (the largest in India) and prepared for entry. Everyone had to remove their shoes and the women also had to wear gowns to cover up their bodies. Luckily, instead of wearing the unwashed used gowns provided at the door the women were given clean gowns provided by our tour company. Walking in socks throughout the mosque we deftly tried to avoid (sometimes unsuccessfully) stepping where birds had attempted to fertilize the ground. The mosque was very plain; not anything like the Blue Mosque in Turkey. Next was a cycle rickshaw tour through the densely packed streets and tiny alleys of Chandi Chowk. The cyclist drove us for about a half hour and if you didn't have a bad back before, you had one now! The controlled chaos was mystifying to someone unfamiliar with life here in these crowded streets. The electric wires attached to the buildings looked like snakes and surely were a fire hazard. There were ten or twenty cables running along buildings just out of reach to pedestrians. The ride ended back where we started and next we rode to Humayan's Tomb. Set in a beautiful huge green space (really surprising in the center of a city of twenty million) it's a really photogenic setting. The tomb was built in 1572 and has been lovingly restored. Our last stop of the day exceeded all of our expectations. We went to a retrospective on a well-known Indian artist and We were treated to a private gallery tour and description by an amazingly articulate art critic who writes for the Financial Times of India under the heading of "the business of art." Our appreciation of the art was really enhanced by him. He seemed to really enjoy walking through the gallery with us while giving his opinions and answering our questions.. It was a full and busy day and we arrived back at about 5:45PM tired but smiling.

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